ANKARA, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Turkey's Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned the charge d'affaires of the Iraqi embassy to defend Turkey's fresh cross-border operation in northern Iraq.
The ministry expressed its "discomfort over the baseless allegations" by the Iraqi authorities against Turkey's military operation, dubbed Claw-Lock, that targeted the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgic said in a statement.
The Turkish move came after Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Tuesday summoned the Turkish ambassador in protest over Turkey's launching a cross-border offensive in northern Iraq a day earlier. Iraq slammed the Turkish operation as a violation of its sovereignty.
Bilgic said Ankara prefers that the Iraqi authorities eliminate the PKK, and is ready for cooperation in this regard. The PKK, which has been rebelling against the Turkish government for more than three decades, is listed as a "terrorist" organization by Turkey.
As long as the Iraqi authorities do not take concrete and effective steps in this direction and the PKK continues to pose threat to Turkey from Iraqi territories, Turkey will continue to take the necessary measures on the basis of the right of self-defense arising from Article 51 of the UN Charter, Bilgic explained.
The Turkish offensive came two days after Masrour Barzani, prime minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.
Erdogan on Wednesday thanked Iraqi authorities for their support of the military operation, saying that the offensive was solely aimed at maintaining Turkey's border security.
Turkey regularly conducts cross-border operations on the PKK bases in northern Iraq, despite Iraq's repeated protests. ■