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US Requests NATO Help in Iraq War - 2003-01-15


NATO officials say the United States has formally asked the alliance for support in the event of a war against Iraq. The request was disclosed on Wednesday at the weekly meeting of NATO ambassadors.

NATO officials say that among Washington's proposals is a request that the alliance take measures to protect NATO member Turkey from any Iraqi counterstrike in case war breaks out. Turkey borders on Iraq and is expected to be a launching pad for American air strikes against Iraq.

The officials say the United States also wants access to NATO-owned equipment, such as surveillance aircraft and the right to use its allies' airspace and military bases.

One official says Washington is seeking to use NATO's military planning facilities to coordinate logistical support for its troops. This official says the United States also suggested that allied troops could play a role in peacekeeping in Iraq once Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has been overthrown.

NATO officials say that consultations on Washington's request are still at an early stage and that no decision has been made.

NATO decisions are made by a consensus of its 19 member nations. The officials say that, if the alliance accedes to the U.S. request, the proposals will be sent to NATO's military planners for action.

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