Turkish convoy rolls to Iraq border as U.S. warns against invasion
PKK will declare ceasefire Monday evening: Iraqi president's office
All diplomatic routes are open to ensure that Turkey holds off from invading Iraq alone, the White House said on Monday, amid thinning patience from Turkey after the weekend killings of at least 12 of its soldiersby Kurds in Iraq.
As Turkish military vehicles loaded with artillery andmore soldiers lumbered towards the Turkey-Iraq border on Monday, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack continued to urge restraint. The U.S. would administer a diplomatic "full court press," he said.
Washington is concerned that if Turkey takes unilateral action without waiting for help from Iraq and the U.S., it could lead to a destabilization in northern Iraq — the onlyregion of the war-ravaged country that has remained relatively stable.
But in Turkey, support for an incursionwasfurther inflamed bySunday's ambush from the PKK, also known as the Kurdistan Workers' Party.
'Better ways to deal with this'
McCormack told reporters that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday evening, advising Erdogan against "unilateral cross-border operations."
The U.S. believes "there are better ways to deal with this issue," McCormack said, describing the conversation between Rice and Erdogan.
McCormackalso said theU.S. has urged Iraq to act swiftly to stop thePKK — which the U.S. considers to be a terrorist organization — from further attacks on Turkey.
On Monday, it appeared Iraq had delivered its message. Reports quoting the office of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said the Kurdish militants with the PKK would declare a ceasefire by "Monday evening."
34 PKK militants killed in counter-offensive
The same day, Turkish troops firedmunitions across the Turkey-Iraq border.
The at least 12 killings at the hands of thePKK on Sunday created a furor in Istanbul and other cities, with thousands of demonstrators demanding Turkey send soldiers across the border to crush themilitants once and for all. The government approveda motion for aninvasion last week.
Turkey's military said it has launched a helicopter-backed offensive and has ordered troops to fire atPKK positions along the border. The counter-offensive has killed 34militants so far, the military said.
Erdogan saidthat when he spoke toRice on Sunday,he requested "speedy steps from the U.S." in taking action against the PKK militants. So far, he has heeded callsfrom the U.S., Iraq and the United Nations secretary general to show restraint against the militants, whowant an independent Kurdish state within Turkey.
Sincethe conflict between the PKK and Turkey began in 1984, it's estimated more than 30,000 people have died.
With files from the Associated Press