U.S. backs Turkey in eliminating Kurdish Workers Party from Iraq

Friday, August 1, 2003

The United States has declared its support for the elimination of the Kurdish Workers Party, deemed by the State Department as a terrorist group.

The Bush administration said the United States does not support arranging political asylum for PKK members now based in northern Iraq. The administration was responding to reports that Washington sought to find refuge for up to 5,000 PKK insurgents in Norway. The PKK is also known as Kadek.

Turkish officials said Ankara and Washington agreed on the elimination of the Kurdish insurgency group in exchange for Turkish troop deployment in Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The PKK and Kadek is a terrorist organization under U.S. law," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Thursday. "The United States is in coordination with Turkey and we're committed to eliminating the threat that's posed by the PKK-Kadek."

Boucher's statement was the first confirmation by Washington that the United States supports the dismantling of the PKK.

The State Department spokesman said the United States has not been involved in efforts to relocate Kurdish insurgents who have rejected a Turkish amnesty offer. Ankara has offered amnesty or reduced prison sentences for Kurdish insurgents who surrender and cooperate with Turkish authorities.

"We're not involved in any way," Boucher said. "We were not encouraging political asylum in any way."

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