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 Sunday, 5 January, 2003, 16:10 GMT
Turkey and Egypt's peace pact
Anti-war demonstration in Ankara
There is strong opposition in Turkey to a war
The Turkish Prime Minister, Abdullah Gul, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak have said they will work to prevent a possible American-led war against Iraq.

Speaking after the talks in Egypt, Mr Gul was quoted by Turkey's Anatolia news agency as saying: "We will endeavour to prevent this war up until the end."

Abdullah Gul
Abdullah Gul: Putting diplomatic skills to the test
Turkey and Egypt are under pressure to allow the United States to use their air bases in the event of a conflict.

Mr Gul, who is on a regional tour aimed at resolving the Iraqi crisis peacefully, is now due to meet the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, in Cairo.

Mr Gul, who has already been to Syria, will visit Jordan on Monday and Saudi Arabia later this month.

Correspondents say the tour could be an attempt to reach a united Muslim position to present to Baghdad, to try to avert a war.

The BBC's correspondent in Egypt, Paul Wood, says that Mr Gul and Mr Mubarak are like-minded leaders who have used almost identical language about the catastrophe that a war would inflict on the entire region.

Financial compensation

Turkey is the only Muslim state in the Nato alliance.

US officials are engaged in discussions with Turkey over financial compensation if there is a conflict.

Incirlik base
The Incirlik base is crucial for a US attack

Turkey says it could face losses of $28bn in the event of an attack, but the US has so far only offered a package worth $3-4bn.

The use of bases in Turkey would allow the US to fight a two-front war, squeezing Saddam from north and south.

Deadline looming

Egypt has similarly not yet decided whether or not to agree to American requests for the use of its bases.

Both countries have said that they will wait until January 27, when the United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq are due report back their findings to the UN Security Council, to make their decision.

John Taylor, the US Treasury Department's undersecretary (l) points at Turkey's Finance Minister Ali Babacan (r)
The US has been on a diplomatic charm offensive with Turkey

But even as Mr Gul was saying that there is still time to step back from war, a newspaper in Ankara printed what it said was a picture of Turkish tanks already moving inside Kurdish-held northern Iraq.

Our correspondent says there have been many similar reports in recent weeks - a sign, if true, that Turkey like other governments in the region, is already acting in the full expectation that the US is going to war.

One of the prime minister's advisers said that Mr Gul's tour is not simply aimed at delivering his message of peace to the region, but also at testing the water.

Isolation

Turkey is keen to find out what Syria, Jordan and Egypt think about the prospect of war and, more particularly, what they think about Turkey's potential involvement.

The Turkish Government is aware of its isolation from other Muslim countries in the region, highlighted this week by joint exercises its military carried out with Israel and the US in the Mediterranean.

The government does not want to be seen to be used as what another senior adviser described as "Muslim cover" for America.

At the same time, it values its relationship with the US in particular, and the West in general.

Mr Gul will be looking for reassurance from the countries he visits, when explaining the difficult position in which Turkey now finds itself.

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  The BBC's Paul Wood reports from Cairo
"This was a meeting of minds"

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04 Jan 03 | Middle East
27 Dec 02 | Middle East
27 Dec 02 | Europe
04 Nov 02 | Business
04 Jan 03 | Middle East
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