Turkey rejects cease-fire

<I>Associated Press</I><BR>Turks waving national flags take part in a protest today against the separatist Kurdish rebel group of PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkey's foreign minister rejected any cease-fire by Kurdish rebels today as he met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad to press them to crack down on the guerrillas. Turkish forces massed on the border and tensions rose over a threatened military incursion.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, himself a Kurd, said Iraq's central government and authorities in its Kurdish autonomous region in the north would work together to deny the rebels freedom of movement, funds and representative offices. He said a high-level political and military delegation would travel soon to Turkey.

Iraqi officials have been saying that guerrillas with the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is known by its Kurdish acronym PKK, were based in inaccessible mountainous areas of northern Iraq.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said there are several ways to fight terrorism and Ankara would use them when appropriate. The buildup of troops along Turkey's border with Iraq, meanwhile, continued with military helicopters airlifting commando units into the area overnight.

The mix of diplomatic and military activity followed Sunday's rebel ambush near the Iraqi border that left 12 Turkish soldiers dead, 16 wounded and eight missing.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with British leaders in London and warned that Turkey cannot wait forever for the Iraqi government to act against the rebels.

Britain has backed the United States in trying to keep Turkey from crossing into Iraq to attack the Kurdish rebels based there. The U.S. and others fear a Turkish attack could lead to widespread bloodshed in one of Iraq's few relatively peaceful areas.

"We also don't wish our historical and friendly ties with Iraq to be ruined because of a terrorist organization," Babacan said at a joint news conference after meeting with Zebari. "On the other hand, we are expecting support from international community and our neighbors in struggle against terrorism."

Babacan said rebel attacks this month alone left 42 people dead.

But he rejected any offer of a cease-fire by the PKK.

Cease-fires are "possible between states and regular forces," a stern-faced Babacan said. "The problem here is that we're dealing with a terrorist organization."

The PKK has called on Turkey not to attack Iraq, claiming that a unilateral rebel cease-fire declared in June was still in place although it did not halt fighting.

"The position of the PKK is that we have agreed to a cease-fire but when we are attacked by the Turkish troops we will hit back," rebel spokesman Abdul-Rahman al-Chadarchi told The Associated Press today.

He also confirmed that the rebels were holding eight Turkish soldiers captive and promised to treat them with respect, although he said it was "premature" to discuss conditions for their release.

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