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April 12, 2003
 
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(Reuters Photo)
Turk FM Says No Need Now to Send Forces Into Iraq

Reuters


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April 12

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has no immediate need to send troops into northern Iraq, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said on Saturday, lowering tension between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds over the future of Iraqi cities Kirkuk and Mosul.

"There is no need at the moment for the Turkish army to enter northern Iraq," Gul told reporters in Ankara.

That will be welcomed in Washington, which has scrambled to reassure NATO ally Turkey after Iraqi Kurds moved into the two cities, apparently without U.S. approval.

Turkey was deeply alarmed when the Iraqi Kurdish fighters swept into the cities on Thursday and Friday, suspecting the Kurds might claim the cities as part of a breakaway state.

Since then Turkey appears to have been calmed by U.S. reassurances that its forces will take over control of the cities.

Reuters reporters said U.S. troops began moving into Mosul on Saturday, although there was still a significant Kurdish presence in both cities.

Gul said Turkish military observers were in place in Kirkuk and Mosul. Kurdish officials say they will hand over control to the small U.S. force.

"The teams assigned yesterday are acting together with the American troops there. They are keeping us informed about developments instantly," Gul said, squashing Turkish media reports of attacks against Turkish-speaking ethnic kin in Kirkuk.

"We have no such information," he said, calling for calm in the Turkish press where the sight of Kurdish peshmerga fighters in Kirkuk sounded alarm bells.

"Please don't look for sensationalism," Gul said.

Witnesses on the Turkish border with Iraq said Turkey's large armored force there appeared to have raised its level of preparation but had not moved from the Turkish side of the border.


photo credit and caption:
Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters leave the Northern Iraqi key oil hub of Kirkuk April 11, 2003. Turkey accepted U.S. promises to block any bid by Iraqi Kurds to control northern oilfields, but signaled it was still ready to send its own troops if it saw a Kurdish move toward independence. Photo by Nikola Solic/Reuters

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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