Clinton: Syria mustn’t become PKK haven
Syria must not become a haven for outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants battling Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Aug. 11 during a visit to Turkey.
“We share Turkey’s determination that Syria must not become a haven for PKK terrorists whether now or after the departure of the [Bashar] al-Assad regime,” Clinton told a joint news conference in Istanbul with her Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu.
At the press conference, Davutoğlu warned against a “power vacuum” in conflict-torn Syria being exploited by the PKK and said, “We need to take joint efforts to prevent a power vacuum from being formed.”
Clinton and Davutoğlu said their countries were creating a formal structure to plan for worst-case scenarios in Syria, including a possible chemical weapons attack on government opponents.
The two foreign ministers said their two nations would set up a working group to respond to the crisis in Syria as conditions there deteriorate. They said the group would coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the potential fallout in the case of a chemical attack, which would result in medical emergencies and a likely rise in the number of refugees fleeing Syria.
Clinton said the group was needed in order to explore the “real details” of potential new crises. She said it was now time for “very intensive operational planning.”
“We have been closely coordinating over the course of this conflict, but now we need to get into the real details of such operational planning. It needs to be across both of our governments,” Clinton said.
She said the U.S. State Department and Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had already been working together on the issue but that the new working group would increase the involvement of the intelligence services and militaries of both countries.
Among the contingencies that the U.S. and Turkey agree on the need to plan for is “the horrible event that chemical weapons [are] used,” Clinton said.
“What would that mean in terms of response, humanitarian and medical emergency assistance and, of course, what needs to be done to secure those stocks from ever being used or falling into the wrong hands?” Clinton said.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.