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March 21, 2003
 
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(Reuters Photo)
Turkish Airspace Not Open, Talks Continue-Official

Reuters


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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has not yet opened its airspace to U.S. military overflights and talks with Washington are continuing, a foreign ministry official said on Friday.

Earlier local television channels reported that Turkey had opened its airspace to U.S. military aircraft to attack neighboring Iraq, easing pressure on a main U.S.-led invasion force pressing up from the south.

"We didn't open our airspace yet. We are continuing discussions with the United States this evening," a foreign ministry official told Reuters.

Parliament held a long-awaited vote on Thursday, the day war broke out, granting permission for U.S. warplanes to cross Turkish territory for operations in northern Iraq.

But missions Washington hoped could go ahead immediately, became bogged down in all-night talks over terms. A foreign ministry source said there were snags over the use of the airspace and Ankara's plans to move troops into northern Iraq.

Washington opposes any unilateral dispatch of Turkish troops to northern Iraq, fearing clashes with local Kurds who control the area would disrupt the U.S. campaign.

Ankara fears a possible Kurdish bid to use a war to create an independent state could revive separatism among its own Kurds.


photo credit and caption:
Turkish army mobile heavy artillery is seen in a camp near the border with Iraq March 21, 2003. Turkey delayed opening airspace to U.S. aircraft as war raged in neighboring Iraq on Friday, demanding close control of overflights and greater freedom to dispatch its own troops over the border, sources said. Turkish troops entering northern Iraq is viewed with deep reservations both by the U.S. and Kurdish groups in the area. Photo by Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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