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Turkish Prime Minister says PKK Rebels Must be Eliminated


Turkey's prime minister says the Kurdistan Workers Party is an enemy that must be eliminated. He says the international community must be supportive in fighting this terrorist organization. Prime Minister Recep Tayiip Erdogan is in Italy for a two-day visit and was speaking following a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. Sabina Castelfranco reports from Rome.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayiip Erdogan said the sharing of intelligence is needed as well as support from the international community in order to combat terrorism. He added that the Kurdistan Workers Party - the PKK - is a terrorist organization that must be eliminated.

Mr. Erdogan was speaking in Rome, where he will spend two days meeting top political and economic leaders. His trip to Italy follows a meeting with U.S. President George Bush in Washington. He said Mr. Bush also said that the PKK is an enemy of Turkey, of Iraq and of the United States.

Turkey has assembled 100,000 troops near the border with northern Iraq, where about 3,000 PKK guerrillas are based. Washington has urged Turkey to exercise restraint.

The Turkish prime minister said terror attacks by the PKK in 2007 have caused more than 200 Turkish casualties, not only soldiers but also civilians. He said although the European Union considers the PKK a terror organization, some EU countries have failed to act against the militants.

Without naming any European nations, Mr. Erdogan said some have captured PKK leaders and have then, through obscure means, repatriated them to Iraq. He asked how those countries would react if Turkey did the same with terror suspects those countries were seeking.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Rome will continue to cooperate with Ankara in the fight against terrorism. Mr. Prodi also praised Turkey for the moderation it has shown until now.

The two prime ministers also discussed the problems that need to be faced in the Balkans during the coming months and how to move forward with a common position on Kosovo. Mr. Prodi said they also addressed Turkey's efforts to join the European Union.

Mr. Prodi said he confirmed to his Turkish counterpart that Italy will continue to give Turkey its full support in its effort to become a full member of the European Union.

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