urkish leader dismisses Iraqi objections
( 2003-10-10 10:03) (Agencies)
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan brushed aside Iraqi objections against
sending Turkish troops to Iraq, saying Thursday the soldiers would promote peace
and that objections "would not be acceptable."
Members of Iraq's Governing Council spoke out against troops from its neighbor
after Turkey's parliament voted Tuesday to give the government permission to
send peacekeepers to help the U.S.-led coalition.
Turkish troops "are
going (to Iraq) for the
peace and happiness of
the Iraqi people," the
news agency quoted
Erdogan as saying.
to an army that is there
for peace and
happiness would not be
Turkish troops are not
going to Iraq as a police
force, Erdogan was quoted
as saying. "We are going
there to accelerate the peace process, ... democratization, and help Iraq ... integrate
into the world."
The vote did not specify when troops would be dispatched, how many would be
deployed, or when they would go. Those issues are expected to be the subject of
U.S.-Turkish talks that could take months.
U.S. Ambassador Eric Edelman met with top Foreign Ministry officials Thursday to
discuss a possible deployment, a Foreign Ministry official said, speaking on
condition of anonymity.
The official said the meeting was a general exchange of ideas on peacekeeping and
gave no further details.
On Wednesday, Iraq's Governing Council told the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq,
L. Paul Bremer, that Iraqis oppose Turkish peacekeepers. Many Iraqis fear that
peacekeepers from neighboring countries may not be neutral.
Iraqi Kurds are especially reluctant to accept Turkish peacekeepers. Turkey battled
Turkish Kurdish rebels fighting for autonomy in southern Turkey, a 15-year
conflict that left 37,000 people dead.
U.S. officials met Thursday with members of the council in Baghdad and Bremer
said the meeting was "an important step to finding a solution satisfactory to both
the United States and Iraq."
Also Thursday, five members of Congress arrived in Turkey. The delegation,
headed by Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., a member of the House Armed Services
Committee, met with Deputy Premier Mehmet Ali Sahin and other officials.