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Biden calls Kurdish PKK a 'terror group'

January 23, 2016

US Vice President Joe Biden has described the actions of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) as 'absolutely outrageous,' during his visit to Istanbul. The US official also hinted at a military solution for Syria.

Joe Biden und Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Suna

During his meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday, Biden praised Turkey for taking "very important steps to improve the security of its border" from "Islamic State" (IS) militants.

The top US official also said that Washington and its NATO ally Turkey were working closely together on crippling 'IS.'

Turkey is currently engaged in an aerial campaign against 'IS' in Turkey. At the same time, its security forces are fighting Kurdish PKK members on the home front.

'Terror group plain and simple'

At the joint press conference with Davutoglu, Biden said that 'IS' "is not the only existential threat to the people of Turkey, the PKK is equally a threat," adding that the PKK has shown no desire to live in peace.

Türkei Diyarbakir Militäroffensive gegen Kurden
Turkish armored vehicles on the streets of DiyarbakirImage: picture-alliance/abaca/M. Coban

"It is a terrorist group plain and simple. And what they continue to do is absolutely outrageous," he said.

However, Biden's remarks did not seem to include Kurdish fighters battling 'IS' in Syria, in an anti-Jihadi push supported by the US.

US prepared for a 'military solution'

While most countries support the military effort against 'IS,' they disagree on which factions within Syria should be designated as terrorists, and which should be considered allies.

This dispute threatens to delay the peace talks set for Monday, as the US, Russia, and other major powers squabble about which armed group deserves a place at the Geneva table.

The US vice president said that Washington was determined to find a political solution to the civil war in Syria, but he was "neither optimistic or pessimistic" about the outcome.

"We do know it would be better to reach a political solution," Biden said. "But we are prepared..., if that is not possible, to having a military solution to this operation and taking out Daesh," Biden added, referring to the Arabic acronym for "Islamic State." He did not provide details about the possible operation or its participants.

Türkei Autobombenanschlag auf eine Polizeiwache in Diyarbakir
Ankara blames Kurds for terror strikes in the southeastImage: picture-alliance/abaca/Depo Photos

The US' top diplomat John Kerry was slightly more hopeful than Biden during his visit to Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

"We are confident that, with a good initiative in the next day or so, those talks can get going and that UN representative Staffan de Mistura will be convening people," Kerry said after meeting Gulf foreign ministers in Riyadh.

dj/jlw (AFP, dpa, Reuters)