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April 2, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Powell Seeks Restraints on Turkish Forces
Secretary of State Colin Powell Seeks Restraints on Turkish Forces, More Military Cooperation

The Associated Press


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ANKARA, Turkey April 2

On a fence-mending mission with a longtime ally, Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday sought an agreement with Turkish leaders to keep them from sending troops into northern Iraq if Kurdish refugees threaten to overwhelm the border.

"We believe that the work we are doing there now should make it unnecessary for them to consider any incursion in the region," Powell said.

Turkey, with a large Kurdish population, is worried that Iraqi Kurds might declare independence and embolden separatists in Turkey, who have fought for autonomy in the southeast for 15 years.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the White House envoy, has been meeting with Turkish officials in search of an agreement in which Iraqi Kurds would promise to remain part of a postwar Iraqi government and Turkish forces would not go into the area.

"That is pretty much under control and I hope to come to a complete understanding," Powell said Tuesday as he flew to Ankara from Washington.

Powell acknowledged that Turkey felt great anxiety that the surge of Iraqi Kurdish refugees at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991 could recur.

Powell was meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and other Turkish officials over a six-hour period Wednesday.

About two dozen students protested Powell's visit outside the Foreign Ministry, chanting "Murderer, murderer, get out of Turkey!" About five minutes before Powell arrived for the round of meetings, police detained all of the protesters.

After his talks in Turkey, Powell planned to fly to Belgrade for a courtesy call on President Svetozar Marovic and Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic of Serbia and Montenegro "to show our support for the country as they go through this difficult time and let them know we are with them."

Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated last month in what was considered a severe blow to evolution to democracy in what remains of the former Yugoslavia.

From Belgrade Powell was going to Brussels, Belgium, for consultations with European Union officials who planned to tell him at a Thursday meeting that the United Nations must play the central role in rebuilding postwar Iraq.

Powell also was meeting in Brussels with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov.

EU spokeswoman Emma Udwin said Tuesday, "We believe the U.N. system has a unique capacity and experience in post-conflict states. The U.N. should play a central role during and after the crisis."

Congress, meanwhile, is looking hard at President Bush's request for $1 billion in special assistance for Turkey. Powell said this is designed to deal with longtime economic woes.

Turkey passed up a $6 billion aid package by declining to permit U.S. troops to use Turkish territory to launch an invasion of northern Iraq.

Powell said the Pentagon was considering ways in which Turkey could assist in the war with Iraq beyond the use it has provided of its airspace for coalition combat aircraft.

Against that backdrop, the United States has started pulling some 50 warplanes out of Incirlik air base in southern Turkey after it became clear that Turkey would not allow them to be used in an Iraq war. The planes had patrolled northern Iraq since after the 1991 Gulf War.

Powell said he would like Turkey to assist in providing humanitarian aid to Iraqis.

On the war itself, Powell remained optimistic.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we will prevail," he said. "But I cannot tell you how long that will take." The former Army general who was chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 1991 Gulf War said there were "rhythms and patterns" in all wars that were not easily apparent.


photo credit and caption:
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, left, shakes hands with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer before a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, April 2 , 2003. Powell arrived in Turkey on a trip aimed at repairing fractured relations that have left Washington alienated from NATO's only Muslim member. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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