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Friday, 4 October, 2002, 20:38 GMT 21:38 UK
Turkey warns against unilateral action
US plane at Turkey's Incirlik airbase
Turkey is important to US forces engaged over Iraq

Turkey's president has warned that any action against Iraq that lacks international backing will be unacceptable.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer was speaking after he met top government and military officials.

President Sezer (R) greets visiting top Iraqi official Tarik Aziz on 1 October
Turkish has been given close attention by the Iraqi authorities
Turkey is the only member of Nato with a land border with Iraq and has been the focus of close attention from both American and Iraqi governments.

Turkey's opposition to any American military action against Iraq is longstanding.

Ever since the US administration started talking about the use of force to effect what it called regime change in Iraq, Turkey has been making clear that it considers the prospect highly detrimental to its interests.

Turkish concerns

President Sezer's comments are unusually strong.

Turkey counts America as its key ally - it is extremely wary of antagonising it.

But it is also deeply unhappy about the thought of war.

The country lost huge amounts as a result of the Gulf War in the early 1990s and the trade embargo which followed it.

And Turkey is also worried about the prospect of greater Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq.

It spent many years crushing a Kurdish autonomy movement in its own south-east and believes that Kurds in northern Iraq could foment trouble across the border.

The US is believed to need Turkey's co-operation in any war.

It currently uses a Turkish airbase in the south-east to maintain a no-fly zone in northern Iraq.

It is thought that it would want more extensive use of Turkish facilities in the event of war.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Keith Adams
"The television station says the US has asked to extend its use of the Incirlik air base"
The BBC's Johnny Dymond
"Prime minister Bulent Ecevit denied the report in a televised press statement"
The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"The diplomatic struggle isn't easy"

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 VOTE RESULTS
Should the weapons inspectors go into Iraq now?

Yes
 79.51% 

No
 20.49% 

61425 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

04 Oct 02 | Americas
16 Jul 02 | Middle East
04 Oct 02 | Middle East
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