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Turkey's President Says US Must Fight Terrorists in Northern Iraq

Turkey's president says his country "has decided" on how to proceed against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and has informed the United States. The comments by President Abdullah Gul Tuesday came a day after U.S. President George Bush met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington. Deborah Block has more from the northern Iraq's Kurdish capital, Irbil.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul did not specify what decision has been made. He said part of Prime Minister Erdogan's goal during his trip to Washington was to explain how Turkey has chosen to deal with the Kurdish rebels. President Bush told Turkey's prime minister Monday that the United States would share military intelligence about the rebels. President Gul said Tuesday the U.S. should fight against all terrorism in Iraq.

He said to fight in other parts of Iraq but not in northern Iraq is unacceptable. He said it is the responsibility of the United States.

Kurdish Workers Party rebels have been conducting raids into Turkey from northern Iraq for years, but in recent weeks have stepped up their attacks, killing a number of Turkish troops and sparking outrage among the Turkish population.

The United States, which considers the PKK a terrorist group, has been pressing Turkey to use restraint and avoid a major cross-border attack on rebel bases in northern Iraq.

Osman Ozcelik is an ethnic Kurd and a member of Turkey's parliament.

He says Turkey has not resolved the problem which affects countries around Turkey and can only be solved through discussion. He says war is not the answer and will only deepen the wounds.

Officials in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq are keeping a close eye on the situation.

Safin Dizaiy is head of international relations for the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the largest political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. He says the PKK should lay down its arms and not provoke a Turkish incursion at the border. However, he is critical of Turkey for not agreeing to what he calls "an amicable settlement."

"And the PKK problem is an internal problem from Turkey," said Safin Dizaiy. "It is a spillover from Turkey to this region. However, we feel that the Kurdistan region should not be used as a springboard, as a staging ground, for any operations against our neighbors. If military options have been explored in the past and they have not been successful, that means we have to go back to the drawing board and to review the situation, and find other solutions."

Mohammed Muhsin is also with the Kurdistan Democratic Party and is in charge of a large area on Iraq's border with Turkey. He says although the Iraqi border is quiet, that can change at any time.

He says of course, people are afraid but they are ready to defend themselves if they are attacked. He says if Turkey attacks, the United States should protect Kurdistan.