Casey: We see no unusual troop movements in Turkey
The U.S. State Department said Wednesday it has seen nothing to substantiate reports of a significant movement of Turkish military forces in the area near the country's border with Iraq.
While there have been counter terrorism military activities on the Turkish side of the border by Turkish forces, "we haven't seen anything unusual or different," deputy spokesman Tom Casey said upon a question. "So the answer to that is we haven't spoken to the Turkish government about this because we haven't seen anything particularly unusual," he added.
Casey said the United States wants to continue working with Turkey and the Iraqi government "to confront the challenges that are posed by PKK terrorism."
He argued U.S., Turkish and Iraqi cooperation is the best way to ensure the border region remains peaceful, saying "And certainly we want to see that cooperation be done in a peaceful, transparent way through the trilateral mechanisms that we've already established, including the work of General Ralston."
Reports from the scene indicate the presence of large contingents of soldiers, tanks, guns and armored personnel carriers, but the Turkish military has described this as routine summer reinforcements. The aim, it says, is to prevent infiltration by militants of the PKK, from bases in northern Iraq.
Asked whether U.S. officials held high-level conversations with Turkish officials, to "encourage" them not to consider doing anything unilaterally with northern Iraq, Casey said that General Ralston had been in regular contact with Turkish government officials and, his message had been and continued to be one of promoting cooperation on this subject.
"Certainly, we have spoken out publicly about the issue and about our desire to see Turkey as well as Iraq cooperate with one another on this issue. I am not aware that this has come up in any specific senior-level conversations though," Casey said.
The New Anatolian
01 June 2007