Thursday, July 19, 2007

US military corruption behind weapons in PKK hands, Gül reveals

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, who visited his hometown of Kayseri for an election campaign on Thursday, met with journalists later in the day.

US military corruption behind weapons in PKK hands, Gül reveals

The US Department of Defense has launched an investigation into US-registered weapons sent to the Iraqi army ending up in the hands the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said on Thursday.
It has been revealed that certain US soldiers were involved in corrupt acts related to the issue of weapons ending up in PKK hands, Gül told reporters at a press conference during an election campaign trip to the central Anatolian province of Kayseri.
“The US side is saying they have launched an internal investigation at the Department of Defense; a corruption incident in which some soldiers were involved has emerged, and the necessary administrative procedures [concerning these soldiers] have been implemented. We are now having discussions with the Iraqi side to determine how the weapons given to the Iraqi army ended up in the hands of terrorists,” Gül said in remarks aired live on NTV.
Former members of the PKK escaping from mountain camps in northern Iraq recently gave testimony in which they told security authorities and prosecutors they had seen US trucks delivering arms to PKK camps. Turkish officials suggested there was other evidence indicating the one-time terrorists’ charges could be accurate, without elaborating.
Gül has already requested a formal explanation from the US over the allegations in a telephone conversation with his US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice. US Ambassador Ross Wilson was also summoned to the Foreign Ministry and shown documents relating to the allegations.
Speaking at a daily briefing earlier this week, US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack denied the allegations and declined to comment on contact between Wilson and Turkish authorities, saying he did not know whether he was summoned to the Foreign Ministry or not.
US Embassy Press Attaché Kathryn Schalow, speaking with Today’s Zaman on Thursday following Gül’s latest remarks over the issue, first stressed that Washington considered both the PKK and its offshoot, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK), to be terrorist organizations, saying the US would not get involved in any kind of contact or relation with terrorists.
“We take very seriously reports concerning US weapons being found in possession of terrorists. We’ve been working closely both with Turkish and Iraqi authorities to investigate the reports,” Schalow said, refusing to comment on an ongoing investigation.
Underlining the importance attributed by the US to “close and effective dialogue with Turkey on this as well as on other issues,” and the US commitment for fighting against PKK “on all fronts,” Schalow did note: “For dialogue to remain frank and effective, it is best not to have them carried out in public forums.”

Today’s Zaman Ankara

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