In a briefing on May 11, the U.S. ambassador did not provide details of
the EP-3E, Middle East Newsline reported. Earlier, however, Ricciardone said the aircraft was diverted from
the U.S. war in Afghanistan to help Turkey in the counter-insurgency
campaign against the Kurdish Workers Party, based in the Kandil mountains in
The EP-3E was said to have been collecting signals intelligence,
including radio intercepts, from PKK strongholds in Iraq. Officials said the
intelligence was processed by the U.S. Navy's Fleet Air Reconnaissance
Ricciardone said U.S. intelligence assistance to Turkey costs about $400
million per year. He said he was providing these details to rebuff
accusations by senior Turkey officials that Washington was withholding
intelligence on the PKK, deemed a terrorist organization by the European
Union and the United States.
On May 17, Gen., James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint
Chiefs of Staff, completed a three-day visit to Turkey. Officials said
Cartwright discussed military cooperation with Turkish Chief of Staff Gen.
Isik Kosaner and senior officials.