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Fri 25 Sep 2015 10:30 AM

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Turkey to seek support of world leaders for its militant crackdown

Davutoglu to meet Merkel, Rouhani in week-long US visit

Turkey to seek support of world leaders for its militant crackdown
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. (AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey's prime minister will tell world leaders next week
Ankara can play a key role in stopping a spread of terrorism, including ISIL,
but expected understanding for its own battle against Kurdish militants.

Washington, while considering the Kurdistan Workers Party
(PKK) a terrorist group, sees the affiliated YPG Kurdish militia in Syria as
its chief ally in fighting ISIL there.

The link unsettles Turkey and is likely to be raised in
more explicit terms by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu when the United Nations
General Assembly convenes in New York next week.

NATO member Turkey has opened its air bases to a US-led
coalition against ISIL fighters, but the focus of its own air strikes has been
Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants. Fighting has escalated since a truce
between the PKK, seeking broader Kurdish rights, and the army broke down in

The fighting, in the runup to November elections, has
raised suspicions among opponents of President Tayyip Erdogan that the priority
is to check Kurdish territorial ambitions rather than to rout the Islamist
insurgents. The fighting, which began in 1984, has cost over 40,000 lives.

"Turkey will share its experience with world leaders
to seek support to prevent the Middle East from becoming a region that exports
terrorism to the world," the senior official said.

"The Prime Minister will also highlight that certain
countries and organisations should refrain from attitudes that encourage and
support PKK and other groups for permanent stability in the Middle East,"
the official said.

The remarks, apparently directed at Washington, were
echoed by Davutoglu before his departure for New York.

"The main emphasis here is there is no 'good or bad
terrorist," he said. "Unfortunately sometimes, we do not see the
international community reacting to PKK which has killed many civilians and
security forces over the past two months with the same attitude it displays
towards ISIL."

Comments by US State Department spokesman John Kirby this
week have highlighted the fundamental disagreement between Washington and
Ankara. "We don't consider the YPG a terrorist organisation," Kirby
said during a briefing.

"And they have proven successful against ISIL inside
Syria," he said, referring to an acronym of the Sunni hardline group ISIL.

Turkey fears Kurdish groups in Turkey, Syria and Iraq
could press for the creation of an independent Kurdish state. Ankara has been
harshly criticised, not least by the EU it seeks to join, for its handling of
the Kurdish conflict. Erdogan launched a peace process three years ago but that
appears now in tatters.

The other key topic in Davutoglu's visit will be the flow
of tens of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe, many from camps in Turkey,
Jordan and Lebanon, threatening the future of the cherished passport-free
Schengen zone.

Davutoglu's planned meeting with German Chancellor Angela
Merkel will specifically focus on the refugee issue, another senior official

Turkey has been at the forefront of the refugee crisis
since 2011, when the Syrian uprising begun and has spent $7.6 billion caring
for 2.2 million Syrian refugees.

The EU is now looking for ways to persuade Turkey to do
more to keep Syrian refugees on its territory and stop them moving into Europe.

"The main emphasis will be all countries
particularly Europe abandoning these immigration policies based on
security," another senior official said. "There are all sorts of
people among the migrants but to block the process thinking ISIL militants
might be among them is far from productive."

"This is hardly about money," the official
said. "A comprehensive cooperation and a long-term plan is needed,"
he added.

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