"Turkey, US to discuss anti-PKK work, defense ties"
by Umit Enginsoy, Turkish Daily News, 29 January 2008
A top Turkish general will meet with his U.S. counterparts in Washington this week to review the military cooperation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and to discuss bilateral defense matters.
Gen. Ergin Saygun, deputy chief of the Turkish General Staff, will hold talks with Gen. James Cartwrigtht, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, later this week mainly to discuss intelligence sharing between the United States and the Turkish Armed Forces in the fight against PKK terrorists, officials said. Saygun is also expected to meet U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman and Gen. John Craddock, commander of U.S. forces in Europe (EUCOM) and supreme commander of NATO Allied Forces in Europe, as part of anti-PKK talks. EUCOM coordinates the U.S. military's intelligence-sharing mechanism with its Turkish counterparts.In the wake of the PKK's attacks on Turkish targets that escalated in September and early October, Ankara warned that it might send its army into neighboring northern Iraq where the PKK has bases. Opposing a unilateral and large-scale Turkish incursion into Iraq, U.S. President George W. Bush pledged at a meeting with visiting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in early November last year to provide the Turkish military with actionable intelligence to conduct limited operations against specific PKK targets inside Iraqi territory.Since then Turkish fighter aircraft have repeatedly struck PKK positions in Iraq, including the terrorist group's headquarters on the Kandil mountain range, more than 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of the two countries' border. The Turkish air strikes were conducted with the apparent blessing of Washington and Turkey's civilian and military leaders have praised "the United States' help against terrorism."
Saygun, Cartwright and Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the coalition forces in Iraq, have been designated as point men in coordinating the U.S. and Turkish armed forces' anti-PKK work.Today and Wednesday, Saygun and Mary Beth Long, U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security, will co-chair the annual meetings of the U.S.-Turkish High-Level Defense Group, a mechanism used by senior officials and generals to review the military and defense relationship of the two countries. The last round of talks was held in Ankara last year.The High-Level Defense Group's subcommittees discuss cooperation in the defense industry, regional issues and other defense matters. Amid disputes over Iraq's U.S.-led invasion in 2003, those meetings were put on hold for a few years but resumed in 2007. Saygun is scheduled to return to Turkey on Feb. 7 after visiting several U.S. bases throughout the country.