U.S., Turkey disagree on PKK threat

Monday, May 19, 2003

ANKARA Turkish officials said the intelligence communties in Ankara and Washington are examining a range of proposals to eliminate what they term the threat from the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK.

They said the CIA and Turkish intelligence have discussed assessments regarding the number of PKK insurgents, their location and the weapons they possess.

Turkey asserts that up to 8,000 PKK insurgents are located in northern Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said many of them are believed to have sought safe haven along the Syrian border.

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But the United States is said to dispute the Turkish assessment. Turkish officials said the CIA believes that there are no more than 2,000 PKK insurgents in northern Iraq.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry delegation has been in northern Iraq to discuss the PKK presence and ensure the safety of ethnic Turks in the area.

Another snag is a timetable for the disarming of the PKK. Officials said the Bush administration does not consider this a high priority and has refused to relay a timetable for the surrender of PKK weapons to U.S. forces.

The Turkish semi-official Anatolia news agency said the PKK has deployed more than 80 short-range rockets at its camps in northern Iraq near Turkey's border. The agency said the range of the rockets is between five and eight kilometers, procured after the PKK failed to obtain tanks and heavy weapons.

"After failing to obtain tanks just after the overthrow of the Iraqi regime, the terrorist organization tried to get missiles and night vision goggles with the help of arms smugglers," Anatolia said.

Officials said the U.S.-Turkish talks will result in a report on the PKK issue and recommendations for its disarming. The report will be relayed to the Turkish General Staff for review.

Turkey has offered to grant amnesty to any PKK member who disarms and surrenders to Turkish authorities. PKK members have been given safe haven in Iran and Syria.

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