updated 10/16/2007 10:00:07 AM ET 2007-10-16T14:00:07

Iraq’s Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi arrived in Ankara on Tuesday in an apparent attempt to convince Turkey not to stage a cross-border offensive to fight separatist Kurdish rebels based in Iraq.

Al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior officials. The Turkish Parliament was expected to approve a motion Wednesday allowing the government to order a cross-border attack over the next year.

“The passage of the motion in Parliament does not mean that an operation will be carried out at once,” Erdogan said Tuesday. “Turkey would act with common sense and determination when necessary and when the time is ripe.”

Erdogan called on Iraq and Iraqi Kurds to crack down on separatist rebels. He said the regional administration in northern Iraq should “build a thick wall between itself and terrorist organizations.”

Erdogan said any action would only target the rebels and Turkey would respect Iraq’s territorial integrity.

U.S. urges Turkey not to enter
Washington has urged NATO-ally Turkey not to enter Iraq, fearing that unilateral Turkish military action could destabilize the autonomous Kurdish region in the north which is one of the country’s few relatively stable areas. The Kurds are a longtime U.S. ally.

An offensive could also undermine Turkey’s relations with the European Union, which has pushed Turkey to treat its minority Kurds better.

But Turkey says some European countries tolerate the activities of PKK sympathizers and is frustrated with the perceived lack of U.S. support in the fight against the PKK.

“We have serious expectations from the U.S. administration on the issue,” Egemen Bagis, a foreign policy adviser to Erdogan said Tuesday.

Turkey staged several incursions in the 1990s but they failed to stamp out rebel hideouts.

A Turkish soldier was killed Tuesday when he stepped on a mine, believed to have been planted by Kurdish rebels, near the southeastern city of Bingol, local authorities said.

PKK rebels have demanded autonomy in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast since 1984 in a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

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