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Turkey Would Offer Only Limited Help in War Against Iraq

Turkey said Friday it could make only a limited contribution to any war against Iraq, even if military action were authorized by the United Nations. Speaking after a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by the country's president, Presidential spokesman Tacan Ildem told reporters Turkey's contribution to any war against Iraq would be limited because of its historic ties with that nation.

Mr. Ildem added that Turkey would want a second resolution from the Security Council before it would consider any participation, at all, in military action against Iraq.

The spokesman said Turkey still hopes for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis.

His comments coincide with the arrival in Turkey Friday of the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers. General Myers is widely expected to renew the U.S. request for the deployment of thousands of U.S. ground troops in Turkey to prepare for a possible war.

Those troops would transit through Turkish territory to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

Turkey has yet to deliver an answer, saying that the deployment of foreign troops on its soil requires parliamentary approval. Recent opinion polls indicate that nine out of 10 Turks are opposed to a war against Iraq.

Turkey played a key role in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, opening its bases to U.S. and British warplanes, which were attacking Iraqi targets. In spite of Turkey's current cautious approach, it is widely expected to open its bases once again if there is another war against Iraq. Last week, a 150-member strong team of U.S. technicians arrived in Turkey to survey some 10 Turkish bases and ports for their possible use in a war.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister, Abdullah Gul, has launched a diplomatic drive to secure a peaceful resolution to the Iraq crisis, touring Arab capitals and Iran to discuss the issue. Now, Turkey has invited leaders from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran to a meeting to be hosted in Istanbul, perhaps next week, to discuss ways of avoiding a war.

In addition, in a letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Prime Minister Gul, urged him to fully cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors if he wants to avoid conflict with the United States.