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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 17:38 GMT
US talks up Turkish EU bid
 Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey
Turkey's Incirlik airbase is needed for an Iraq war
A senior United States defence official has urged Washington's European allies to admit Turkey into the European Union.

Speaking in London, Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz said that to exclude Turkey was unthinkable, and Europe had an opportunity to aid a country which would stand as a model to the Islamic world.

US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
Wolfowitz is visiting Turkey for the second time in less than a month
Turkey, a member of Nato and a key ally for any action against Iraq, has long been bidding to become a member of the EU.

Mr Wolfowitz said Turkey's success could demonstrate to the world's one billion Muslims that there was a far better path than that of destruction and despair.

The US official was due to fly on to Turkey later on Monday after his brief visit to London.

Only in November, former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the current head of the EU's Convention on the Future of Europe, angered Turkey by saying it was not a European country and should not be allowed to join the EU.

Turkey's role

The BBC's Nick Childs reports that the visit of Mr Wolfowitz, who is accompanied by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, is aimed at increasing pressure on Iraq to disarm peacefully - and to build a coalition for possible military action if it does not.

Ankara will be his most crucial stop, as Turkey has a border with Iraq and vital military bases.

The Pentagon, our correspondent writes, has so far been proceeding in effect with two alternative plans for military action - one with, and one without, significant Turkish support.


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16 Jul 02 | Middle East
26 Sep 01 | Americas
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