Kurds preparing 'to cross border'

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Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that Turkey would not be deterred by the possible diplomatic consequences if it decides to stage a cross-border offensive into Iraq against Kurdish rebels.

"If such an option is chosen, whatever its price, it will be paid," Erdogan told reporters in response to a question about the international repercussions of such a decision, which would strain ties with the United States and Iraq. "There could be pros and cons of such a decision, but what is important is our country's interests."

Erdogan also had harsh words for the United States, which opposes a Turkish incursion into Iraq because it could disrupt one of its few relatively stable areas.

"Did they seek permission from anyone when they came from a distance of 10,000 kilometers and hit Iraq?" he said. "We do not need anyone else's advice."

Analysts say Turkey could be less restrained about defying the United States because of a U.S. congressional committee's approval of a resolution labeling the mass killings of Armenians around the time of World War I as genocide.

"Democrats are harming the future of the United States and are encouraging anti-American sentiments," Erdogan said. Democratic Party leaders in the House of Representatives support the resolution.

Erdogan said Turkey was ready to sacrifice good ties with Washington if necessary.

"Let it snap from wherever it gets thin," Erdogan said using a Turkish expression that means breaking ties with someone or something.

At issue in the resolution is the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Turkey denies that the deaths constituted genocide, saying the toll has been inflated, and those killed were victims of civil war and unrest that killed Muslims as well as the overwhelmingly Christian Armenians.

Murat Mercan, head of the Turkish parliament's foreign relations committee, accused U.S. legislators of snubbing ties with Turkey.

"In the United States, there are several narrow-minded legislators who can't think of their own interests and who cannot understand the importance of Turkey," Mercan said.