The US military has launched an internal investigation to uncover how American weapons got into the hands of the PKK, according to Turkey's foreign minister Abdullah Gül.
In a TV interview Thursday evening, Gül also revealed that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will travel to Ankara for talks next week following Turkish elections.
Regarding the PKK's use of American weapons, Gül told NTV: After some terrorists were arrested, security forces seized their weapons. When we investigated the place of origin of those weapons, we saw that some of them were manufactured by the United States. US officials told us that those were the weapons they handed over to the Iraqi army."
Today's Zaman quoted more details from Gül's live interview, where he specified: 1,260 weapons captured from the PKK are American made. We documented it to the U.S. These are of course not given directly to the PKK by the U.S. These are the ones that were given to the Iraqi army. Unfortunately some U.S. officers were corrupt. The Department of Defense informed us that a serious investigation is underway.
Prime Minister Erdogan also indicated in public comments that the military has undertaken an investigation, telling the press that the Americans had informed him the situation might have arisen as a result of the corruption of some US personnel.
US Embassy Press Attaché Kathryn Schalow, speaking with Todays Zaman on Thursday following Güls latest remarks, 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. Weve 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.
Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will soon have the opportunity for private dialogue with Iraqi leaders, as they have confirmed plans for a visit from Nuri al-Maliki.
Erdogan said Maliki had wanted to come this week, but the visit was delayed until after the July 22 elections. Without specifying an exact date, Erdogan said Turkey, Iraq and the U.S. would discuss the PKK issue in Ankara within the framework of the trilateral security mechanism set up by the three countries.
He warned however, that if the talks fail with Maliki Turkey will be left with no other option but to act unilaterally against the PKK.
Erdogan said in a TV interview Thursday night that if the US was not prepared to combat the PKK then Ankara would have to do what was necessary, stressing that Turkey has always worked to combat terrorism and had served as a strategic ally for the US in the war on terror.
Afghanistan is the biggest example of this, he said. It is not right to adopt an approach discriminating as my terrorist is bad, your terrorist is good. All terrorists are bad. And we need to form a joint platform for combat against this. We have situated ourselves against terror wherever it is encountered, because we suffer from it.
The number of martyrs we have given to terror has exceeded 15,000. Just as how you have alarmed the world when the twin towers were hit, you should show the same participation and cooperation in this now. If you do not fulfill your responsibilities in this, we will have to do whatever it takes. And that whatever is obvious.
The IDF is investigating....