Fri, Nov 02, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Turkey imposes economic sanctions on northern Iraq


Turkey stepped up pressure yesterday on northern Iraq, imposing economic sanctions over the safe haven Kurdish rebels enjoy in the region, as the US said it was supplying Ankara with intelligence on the separatists' positions.

"We have prepared a list of economic measures targeting the financial resources of the terrorist organization and its supporters," Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan told a press conference.

"Some measures have already been put into force," he said. "These measures will not be announced beforehand, so that they do not lose their efficiency."

Ankara accuses the autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq of harboring and aiding the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which uses bases in the mountainous region for cross-border attacks as part of its 23-year campaign for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

Turkey has reportedly massed up to 100,000 troops on the border with Iraq and has threatened a military incursion to strike PKK bases unless Baghdad and Washington make good on promises to crack down on the rebels.

"We have no time to lose. All instruments -- diplomatic, political, socio-cultural and military -- are on the table," Babacan said.

The NTV news channel said Turkey had closed its air space to flights bound for northern Iraq, but Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quickly denied it.

The sanctions, agreed in a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, came as the Pentagon announced that it was giving Ankara more intelligence on PKK positions along the border with Iraq.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in Ankara today for talks with Turkish leaders over the mounting tensions, while Erdogan will meet with US President George W. Bush in Washington on Monday.

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