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(AFX-Focus) 2003-03-25 18:47 GMT: US promise of 1 bln usd for Turkey unlikely to be dispersed - official

WASHINGTON (AFX) - President George Bush has asked Congress for 1 bln usd in grants for Turkey, but that money is "unlikely" to actually go to the newly installed regime of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a senior administration official said.

US-Turkey relations have soured after the Turkish government on March 1 refused to allow 62,000 US ground forces to use the country as a staging area for the war against Iraq.

"It's very unlikely that they will get the full 1 bln," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Earlier in the day, Bush announced that he was seeking a 74.7 bln usd supplemental budget request from Congress to pay for the war to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Included in the request is 1 bln usd in direct assistance for Turkey. The 1 bln usd could be used to support up to 8.5 bln usd in direct loans or loan guarantees.

The request must still be approved by Congress.

Initially, Bush had plans to provide 6 bln usd in direct aid for Turkey which could have guaranteed up to 24 bln usd in loans or loan guarantees, but that plan was scuttled after the Turkish refusal to cooperate with US forces.

The government on March 20 approved "flyover rights" for US air forces in attacks against northern Iraq for a period of six months. Turkish officials have said the US aircraft would not be allowed to use Turkish bases, even for refueling.



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