Rice flies to Iraq as Turkish troops cross border
By Arshad Mohammed and Shamal Aqrawi
Tue Dec 18, 9:07 AM ET
KIRKUK, Iraq (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Iraqi leaders on Tuesday to speed up national reconciliation on a trip overshadowed by an incursion by several hundred Turkish troops into northern Iraq.
About 300 Turkish soldiers, carrying only light weapons, entered an area of the mountainous northern Kurdish province of Dahuk, about 200 km (120 miles) from the Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where Rice’s plane first touched down.
The soldiers clashed with Kurdish separatist guerrillas, a Turkish military official said. Turkey says it has the right to use military force to combat Kurdish rebels who shelter in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
The incursion was a sharp reminder that while violence in Iraq has dropped by 60 percent since June, security is fragile and Iraq still faces threats both from within and without. The Kurdish Regional Government condemned the incursion.