Despite recent violence, IAPC conference set for Turkey

A terrorist attack that killed dozens of soldiers in Turkey won't deter political consultants from gathering in the Mediterranean country for an international conference next month.

Members of the Kurdish separatist group known as the P.K.K. killed some 24 government troops after staging a cross-border assault from their bases in Northern Iraq on Wednesday. Hundreds of Turkish troops rushed across the border in pursuit of the attackers, according to a New York Times report.

The increasing violence comes as the International Association of Political Consultants (IAPC) is set to hold its annual world conference next month in Istanbul. Organizers are undeterred by Turkey's ongoing domestic turmoil. 

"The P.K.K. events in eastern Turkey are not new, nor will they impact our conference," said Tom Edmonds, president of the IAPC.

The IAPC conference draws political professionals, academics and government officials from around the world -- "big picture people," Edmonds calls them. "We'll talk about fostering democracy and what's going on in terms of campaigns around the world."

The annual conference must be hosted by a democratic country. Turkey was chosen by the group's past presidents and became a symbolic staging ground because of its proximity to the revolutions that unfolded earlier this year in North Africa.

"We chose [Turkey] a  year ago and it's only gotten more relevant," says Edmonds. "We'll be speaking to what's happened in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere."

Speakers include Ambassador Robert Finn, who served as the Bush administration's first envoy to Afghanistan, pollster John Zogby and top officials from the Turkish government. The complete program for the Nov.17-20 event is still being finalized. 

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