Turkish leaders seek another vote on allowing access to U.S. troops

New resolution to go to lawmakers this week

March 03, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

ANKARA, Turkey - Under intense American pressure, Turkey's foreign minister indicated yesterday that his government would ask Parliament to vote a second time on whether to allow American troops to use the country as a base for a military attack against Iraq. The foreign minister, Yasar Yakis, spoke one day after lawmakers here rejected such a plan.

After a marathon meeting of senior officials, Yakis said that his government would take a new resolution to Parliament this week, after the government completes an assessment of the first vote.

"The process will be completed, and then it will come," Yakis said, referring to a new resolution.

While Yakis offered no details of his government's plans, several Turkish officials said much of yesterday had been spent debating whether to try again to obtain Parliament's approval for bringing as many as 62,000 American troops into the country. On Saturday, Parliament failed to pass the measure by three votes.

The defeat shocked U.S. officials, who had been assured by Turkish leaders that Parliament would approve the measure. The first indications that the Turkish officials might seek a new vote occurred after a telephone call yesterday to the Turkish prime minister, Abdullah Gul, from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

A statement issued afterward by Gul said that the two men had agreed "to keep open the channels of communication."

Gul also met with the head of Turkey's politically influential military, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok. The Turkish military, which has intervened repeatedly in Turkish politics over the years, is thought to favor the American deployment.

Gul did not discuss his plans in public yesterday, but he tried to dispel impressions that the U.S.-Turkish alliance, buttressed by a 50-year association in NATO, had been seriously harmed.

"Our friendly relationship of mutual understanding with the United States will go on," Gul said. "The Iraqi leader should not exploit Parliament's decision. If they misunderstand and delay cooperation with the United Nations, then the chance of peace will reduce."

The Pentagon said yesterday it had not adopted an alternative plan for moving American troops into northern Iraq.

Two dozen American vessels waiting off the coast of Turkey near Iskendren to unload military equipment stayed in place, a U.S. official said.

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