Biden: PKK is terror group 'plain and simple,' threat to Turkey like ISIL


US Vice President Joe Biden (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during their joint news conference in Istanbul. Reuters photo

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Jan. 23 that Washington recognized the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey was as much of a threat to Ankara as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL), condemning it as "a terror group plain and simple."

ISIL "is not the only existential threat to the people of Turkey, the PKK is equally a threat and we are aware of that. The PKK has shown no desire or inclination to do that [live in peace]. It is a terrorist group plain and simple. And what they continue to do is absolutely outrageous," Biden said at a news conference after a meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, adding that Ankara had to do whatever was needed to protect its people.

"We do agree with you that in terms of their actions Daesh [ISIL], PKK and (Al-Qaeda's Syria affiliate) al-Nusra... are simply terrorist groups," said Biden.

He praised Turkey for taking "very important steps to improve the security of its border" from ISIL militants.

Biden said Turkey and the United States were coordinating ever more precisely on what is a "shared mission on the extermination of ISIL"

"We do believe our plans together have gotten more contoured and more coordinated," he said.

"We are increasingly making progress and that progress will be sped up as a result of our meeting today."

Biden also said that the United States and Turkey were prepared for a military solution in Syria against ISIL if a political settlement was not possible. 

"We do know it would better if we can reach a political solution but we are prepared ..., if that's not possible, to have a military solution to this operation and taking out Daesh," Biden said. 

Daesh is the pejorative Arabic acronym for ISIL that holds parts of Syria. 

Biden said he and Davutoğlu also discussed how the two NATO allies could further support Sunni Arab rebel forces fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad. 

Davutoğlu said Turkey sees three threats in Syria: “One is the regime, another is Daesh, and third is YPG [People’s Defense Units, the armed forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria]."

Davutoğlu said only the “legitimate Syrian opposition” should be involved with negotiations over Syria. 

“Turkey sees no difference between terrorists groups such as Daesh, PKK, DHKP-C [the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front] or al-Nusra,” said Davutoğlu.

Davutoğlu said the Turkish military was in Iraq to ward off ISIL, reiterating that Ankara respects Iraqi territorial unity. 

The Turkish Prime Minister also thanked Biden for visiting Cyprus, adding that the United States will have an important role in Cyprus peace talks.




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