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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Bush praise for key ally Turkey
Mr Bush and  First Lady Laura Bush lay a wreath at the Ataturk mausoleum in Ankara
Respects were paid to Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey
President George W Bush has praised regional ally Turkey during talks in the capital, Ankara, ahead of a Nato summit in Istanbul.

Turkey demonstrated how to be a Muslim nation that embraced democracy, freedom and the rule of law, Mr Bush said.

He promised to support its campaign for admission to the European Union.

The US president later travelled to Istanbul to attend the two-day Nato meeting which looks set to be dominated by the issue of Iraq.

BBC Europe correspondent Tim Franks, in Istanbul, says Nato ambassadors have agreed that they will respond positively to the request from the Iraqi prime minister for help in training Iraq's security forces.

But it will be for the heads of state and government to decide what that training will mean, our correspondent adds.

Protests and attacks

Nato leaders will be behind an unprecedented security curtain - involving Turkish police backed by helicopters and warships - during the summit which begins on Monday.

President Bush's visit to Turkey was preceded by a series of bomb blasts and protests.

But the BBC's Jonny Dymond, in Istanbul, says he does not appear to have let that disturb him.

Nor did he want to respond to the kidnapping of three Turkish citizens in Iraq, ignoring reporters' questions on the issue.

Instead, Mr Bush praised Turkey's leaders, saying: "I appreciate so very much the example your country has set on how to be a Muslim country and at the same time a country which embraces democracy and the rule of law and freedom."

Wars are unpredictable, and post-war recoveries are unpredictable
Donald Rumsfeld
US Defence Secretary

Mr Bush's meetings with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are being seen as symbolically important for both the US and Turkey.

The decades-old relationship between the two countries was hurt in March 2003 when the Turkish government refused to allow US troops to cross Turkish soil during the invasion of Iraq.

But since then, they have co-operated in the region.

Turkey wants the US to crack down on Kurdish paramilitaries who use the far north of Iraq as a base, while America needs Turkey's continued co-operation as it struggles to stabilise Iraq.

The US also wants Nato members to agree to more involvement in Iraq at the summit which concludes just a day before the planned handover of power in Baghdad.

Insurgent in Falluja
Halting the violence in Iraq is the priority
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told the BBC he expects the summit to finalise agreement on the issue of Nato training Iraq's security forces.

He also acknowledged that the situation in Iraq was not what the US administration had hoped for when the war ended last year.

"Wars are unpredictable, and post-war recoveries are unpredictable. Most countries have a very difficult time," Mr Rumsfeld said on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme.

It was a tough path to democracy, he said, adding: "The Iraqis are going to go through a tough period."


The meeting of leaders of the 26 Nato member states is aimed at resolving differences over Iraq, Afghanistan and the long-term future of the alliance.

Nato soldier and children in Kabul
The use of Nato troops in Afghanistan will also be discussed

Observers say shoring up international support for the US presence in Iraq is a goal of the Bush administration, which faces presidential elections in November.

Iraq's highly volatile situation has been highlighted by a new threat from suspected al-Qaeda militants to kill three Turkish hostages if Turkish companies do not leave Iraq.

The Turkish government has rejected these demands, saying Turkey never gives in to terrorists.

The BBC's Stephen Sackur
"The imminent handover in Iraq has focused minds in Ankara"

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