Turkey a step closer to US troop deal

Times Online

The vote will end weeks of wrangling between the Turks and the Americans over the price that Turkey would get for its co-operation.

The wording suggests that British troops could also join the Americans, although Turkey has yet to respond to a British request to do so, according to diplomats.

Abdullatif Sener, the Cabinet spokesman, said: “Despite the fact that most of the Cabinet was not satisfied by the developments we have decided to seek Parliament’s permission . . . for the deployment of Turkish troops abroad and of foreign troops in Turkey.”

Mr Sener’s statement indicates that the Turkish army would send a sizeable number of troops into northern Iraq. The Government wants this in order to prevent the creation of a Kurdish state, which could revive Kurdish separatism in Turkey.

Sources close to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) said that the Government was expected to push the vote through with its large majority. Last night, however, ministers — who, in line with most of the public, oppose war — were still said to be unhappy at the extent of economic compensation offered by the US and at the type of guarantee that it is prepared to give against Kurdish independence.

It appears that the United States has deviated little from the £3.8 billion grant that Turkey had earlier objected to. Depending on the way it is used, together with loan guarantees, the total package could come to about £16 billion. Additional trade concessions could marginally increase this, but Turkey had hoped for a package of more than £19 billion.

Western diplomats said the issue of whether the International Monetary Fund would be supervising any aid package, a condition vehemently opposed by the Turks, was still “under discussion”.

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