Turkey asks for relief from embargo hardships

June 05, 1994|By New York Times News Service

ANKARA, Turkey -- Turkey is pressing the United States and other Western and Arab allies for relief from the hardships that the United Nations embargo on Iraq imposes on its crisis-ridden economy.

At the same time, sentiment is growing against the continued use of Turkish territory for an international operation on behalf of Kurds in northern Iraq.

The government of Prime Minister Tansu Ciller is seeking approval for a tentative agreement it reached with Iraq in April to conduct what it calls a "rescue operation" to reopen for repair and maintenance the pipeline from the Kirkuk oil fields in Iraq to the Turkish port of Yumurtalik on the Mediterranean.

Under the agreement, Turkey would be allowed to buy for domestic use the 12 million barrels of crude oil that have been in the 616-mile pipeline since the embargo was imposed after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Turkey would reimburse Iraq with food and medicine.

"Let us save the pipeline," President Suleyman Demirel said in an interview.

Western diplomats expressed sympathy but emphasized that their governments were in varying degrees reluctant to open breaches in the embargo.

Ozdem Sanberk, the second-in-command in the Turkish Foreign Ministry, negotiated the deal in Baghdad.

Mr. Sanberk emphasized in an interview that the deal had not yet been signed. He said 3.8 million barrels of the oil in the pipeline belonged to Turkey, having been paid for before the sanctions were imposed. Turkey, he said, has rejected Iraqi demands to export the oil and stands firm against transferring money to Iraq.

"We are not going to make a deal with [President] Saddam [Hussein]," Mr. Demirel said. "But sanctions are causing so much trouble for us."

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