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New Government Formed in Turkey - 2003-03-14

Turkish politician Recep Tayyip Erdogan has assumed the post of prime minister and formed a new government, possibly clearing the way for a new vote on a U.S. troop deployment in Turkey. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer met with Mr. Erdogan Friday at the presidential palace and approved his cabinet list. Brian Purchia has more.

Turkey's parliament meets in a special session starting Friday. The United States is pressuring Ankara to make up its mind about a U.S. troop deployment.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Robert Pearson delivered a letter from President Bush Thursday to incoming Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Of course we pointed out that there are very important decisions to be made in the coming days and we want to be able to work very co-operatively with Turkey and try to arrive at those decisions.”

Senior Turkish officials say Mr. Bush asked Turkey to clarify its position on a U.S. troop deployment along with permission for the U.S. military to fly over Turkish airspace. The Pentagon wants to use Turkish military bases to open a second front in northern Iraq in case of war.

Turkey would receive billions of dollars in U.S. grants and loan guarantees. Lawmakers rejected the motion two weeks ago.

It is unclear if parliament plans to talk about the U.S. deployment during Friday’s special session. Mr. Erdogan said he wants the United States to explain what Turkey's role in a post-war Iraq before he sends the motion back to parliament.

Turkey fears Iraqi Kurds may try to declare an independent Kurdistan in a post-Saddam Iraq, inspiring Turkey's own Kurdish population to rise up.

In related news, Turkey's constitutional court outlawed the People's Democracy Party Thursday. The courts said the party had links with Kurdish rebels. Banned party member Hamit Geylani.

"The banning of the party is a shame for democracy and the rule of law. Political parties are a necessity for a democratic system. Also, the European Human Rights declaration, which was signed by Turkey, protects this necessity."

Mr. Erdogan was appointed to form a government after winning a parliament seat in elections on Sunday.