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 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 13:21 GMT
US 'sure' of Turkish support
General Myers takes salute at Turkish parade
The US wants to use Turkey's military facilities
The United States' top military commander says Turkish leaders have been very co-operative, after talks aimed at securing Ankara's support in any war against Iraq.

Any idea that I'm impatient or that we made demands here is not the case

General Myers
General Richard Myers - who is chairman of the American Joint Chiefs of Staff - rejected any allegations that he was putting pressure on Turkey for a response and downplayed reports of tensions between the two countries.

Washington wants Ankara to give access to the US military in the event of war, but there is overwhelming domestic opposition to any such move in Turkey.

Turkey, as the only Muslim member of Nato and having a common border with Iraq, would be a vital ally for the US to keep in the event of war.

General Myers' visit to Ankara comes at a time when Turkey is promoting an initiative with Middle Eastern states to avert war.

'No impatience'

Speaking after talks with top Turkish military officials on Monday, General Myers did not give details about US troop deployments in the region, saying only that he was satisfied with his visit:

Anti-war protesters in Ankara
There is a strong anti-war movement in Turkey

"Turkey has been very co-operative in all this.

"I am leaving Ankara... very sure about our strategic partnership and very sure of the vision that we all have in terms of what we want for the region, and that is peace and stability.

"Any idea that I'm impatient or that we made demands here is not the case. It was nothing of the sort," General Myers said.

The BBC's Pentagon correspondent, Nick Childs, says that Washington has been hoping for Turkish agreement to station thousands more personnel in the country as it prepares for a possible conflict with Saddam Hussein.

The US has offered financial inducements to help upgrade Turkish facilities - but the Turkish authorities, faced with overwhelming domestic opposition, have not yet reached a final decision.

Washington says it understands Ankara's domestic concerns, but time is running out for the Pentagon war planners, our correspondent says.

Troops restricted

It has been reported that the US military would like to station up to 80,000 personnel in Turkey although the eventual numbers could be much lower - perhaps 15,000 to 20,000.

Correspondents say the question is whether this would be enough for the Americans to open a northern front into Iraq if the event of war.

One suggestion has been that the Turks might allow a significant flow of forces through the country in the event of war so long as there are never more about 20,000 on Turkish soil at any one time.

The United States and Britain already have air forces stationed at Incirlik air base patrolling the northern no-fly zone over Iraq.


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07 Jan 03 | Middle East
05 Jan 03 | Middle East
04 Jan 03 | Middle East
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