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Clinton Says U.S. With Turkey Against PKK

Kurdish protesters clash with riot police during a demonstration in Istanbul against the killing of 12 Kurdish rebels by security forces in Istanbul, May 16, 2011
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States stands with Turkey in its fight with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Clinton's statement in Istanbul comes a day after Kurdish fighters killed 13 Turkish soldiers and seven militants died in the worst clash since the PKK ended a ceasefire in February.

Clinton, in Istanbul for a meeting on Libya, said she would reassure Turkish leaders of the U.S. commitment to security cooperation with Turkey.

In a statement, Clinton also noted the PKK is designated as a foreign terrorist group by the United States.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that "Turkey will succeed in overcoming the terror and the powers behind it."

Erdogan also met the army and intelligence chiefs as well as the interior minister and head of the paramilitary gendarmerie in Ankara.

In its version of events, Turkey's chief of staff said that grenades thrown by the militants sparked a fire in the forested area where the clash took place and 13 soldiers died in the blaze. It said seven soldiers were wounded.

The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency, however, disputed the official version. It quoted a witness as saying a Turkish warplane had targeted the militants and killed the soldiers positioned nearby. It gave no death toll.

Turkish security forces, backed by warplanes, have been dispatched to the mountains of Diyarbakir province to hunt for rebel fighters.

The PKK announced it had moved to what it called an "active defense" stance.

compiled from agency reports

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