The Turkish parliament has voted to allow the government to send troops to northern Iraq to crack down on Kurdish rebels based there.

A government motion seeking a one-year authorisation for one or  more raids into northern Iraq was approved with the support of  507 lvotes in the 550-seat house in Ankara, while 19 deputies voted  against.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier sought to play down expectations of an imminent attack.

He said they will only act at the right time and under the right conditions.

US President George W Bush strongly urged Turkey not to carry out cross-border strikes on Kurdish separatist fighters based in nearby Iraq.

'We are making it very clear to Turkey that we don't think it is  in their interests to send troops into Iraq,' he said at a White  House press conference.

'There's a better way to deal with the issue than having the  Turks send massive additional  troops into the country,' the president said.

Iraqi vice president Tareq al-Hashemi yesterday urged Mr Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul to refrain from military action and to seek a diplomatic solution.

But Mr Erdogan is under major public pressure to hit PKK camps in northern Iraq after a series of deadly rebel attacks on Turkish troops.

Turkey's stance has helped drive global oil prices to a record high of $88 a barrel and has hit its lira currency as investors weigh the economic risks of any major military operation.