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Turkish troops poised amid talks on Iraq action

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Turkish troops poised amid talks on Iraq action


Turkish soldiers continue to carry out small-scale operations along the border with Iraq, ahead of a full week of negotiations aimed at preventing a major invasion. Around 100,000 troops are amassed at the frontier, backed up by fighter jets and tanks. The Turkish government says its forces are ready to take on an estimated 3,000 Kurdish PKK separatists. Ankara has demanded more effort from Baghdad in handing over PKK members based in northern Iraq.

But the Iraqi government has said it is not in control of the PKK. Baghdad has little authority over northern Iraq, which is run by the Kurdistan regional government, with its own defence force. On Thursday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, before being hosted by President Bush next Monday. In the meantime tension remains high along the border, with fleeing residents leaving villages deserted.

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