Obama, Erdoğan discuss PKK attacks, Syria

19 September 2012 / TODAYSZAMAN.COM , – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Barack Obama had lengthy talks on Tuesday, largely discussing Ankara’s escalating conflict with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the latest developments in Syria.

A statement released by Erdoğan’s office Tuesday night said both leaders discussed in 40-minute talks recent terrorist attacks, protests spread across the world after anti-Islam movie made in the US and the latest developments in Syria.

Both leaders agreed that they share the same concerns as the Syrian regime continues to increasingly target civilians that deepen the humanitarian tragedy in the country and urgency of forming the transitional government in the war-torn country.

Obama’s consultation with Erdoğan came at a time when Turkish authorities reported fierce clashes between Syrian opposition fighters and regime forces who are battling for control of a border crossing on the frontier with Turkey.

The violence along the border with Turkey, which is a strong supporter of the opposition trying to oust President Bashar Assad, underlines the regional danger as the Syrian civil war increasingly draws in neighboring countries. At least three Turkish nationals were injured in stray bullets in a Turkish border village as a result of the clashes on the Syrian side. On the diplomatic front, a spokesman for Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said the Egyptian leader told Iran’s foreign minister in a meeting Tuesday in Cairo that relations between the two countries were being hindered by Tehran’s support for Syria’s regime. The two were meeting as part of a Morsi-sponsored Syria peace initiative dubbed the “Islamic Quartet,” bringing together Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt – all supporters of the Syrian rebellion – with Iran.

Some 83,000 refugees have found shelter in 12 camps along the Turkish border with Syria.

Erdoğan and Obama stressed that they will continue to work together in the upcoming period on the Syrian crisis as part of their “close consultations in regional and global issues.”

The statement added that Obama expressed condolences to the Turkish prime minister over the deaths of civilians and Turkish soldiers as a result of PKK attacks, including an attack on a military convoy on Tuesday in eastern Turkish province of Bingöl that left at least 10 soldiers dead and over 60 injured.

At least nine Turkish soldiers killed and 70 others injured after PKK terrorists attacked a military convoy in Bingöl on Tuesday.The recent bloody attacks by the terrorist PKK came amid ongoing and heated clashes in southeastern Turkey along the border with Iraq. The Turkish military launched a large-scale operation in Hakkari’s Şemdinli district last month when PKK terrorists blocked the road of a village in the region and interrogated villagers. Turkish authorities say up to 160 PKK terrorists were killed in the clashes.

Turkish security forces have killed more than 150 terrorists over the past ten days in a major offensive involving several thousand ground troops and air strikes on PKK bases, some of them across the border in northern Iraq. Erdoğan recently said Turkish security forces killed nearly 500 PKK terrorists during military operations in the past month.

The sweeping operations, described as the first major-scale offensive by Turkish security forces in the Southeast, aim to neutralize the terror threat while giving the government breathing room to implement reforms to address the grievances of the local population, mostly Kurds.

Listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and the US, the PKK has been carrying out a bloody war in Turkey’s Southeast since 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict between the terrorist PKK and Turkish forces since the PKK launched its fight with the aim of establishing a separate Kurdish state in the predominantly Kurdish Southeast.

Within its borders, the Turkish state has granted more cultural rights to Kurds as a means of easing the long-running conflict with a significant portion of the ethnic minority, but there is still a great deal of distrust between Ankara and many Kurds.

Obama also told Erdoğan that he appreciates the prime minister’s leading role in warning to Muslims not be provoked into violent actions while protesting the anti-Muslim movie and condemning the violence against US and other Western embassies.