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,"
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
Powell acknowledged that Turkey felt great anxiety that the surge
of Iraqi Kurdish refugees at the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991
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,
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
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
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
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.
|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
Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or