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Iraq's Governing Council Still Concerned about Proposed Turkish Deployment - 2003-10-18

The Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq is advising the country's U.S.-appointed Governing Council to talk directly with Turkish officials about the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq.

All this week, intense negotiations have been taking place between the Iraqi Governing Council and the Coalition Provisional Authority about the possibility of Turkish troops joining coalition forces in Iraq.

Turkey's parliament agreed last week to send as many as 10,000 troops to Iraq. The vote triggered an angry response from some Iraqi Governing Council members, who said Turkish troops in Iraq would create great tension, especially among the Kurdish population in northern Iraq.

The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, has said he favors the inclusion of Turkish troops in the coalition.

Saturday, coalition spokesman Charles Heatly said negotiations are continuing, and the coalition wants the Governing Council to meet directly with Turkish officials to discuss the matter.

"We have expressed our point of view," he said. "The Governing Council has explained their point of view. We're also encouraging the Governing Council to open a dialogue directly with the Turks on this. We believe that, in the context of Iraq improving its relations with neighboring countries - which is something the whole world desires after Iraq has been an element of tension in this part of the world - we believe in the context of the improvement of those relations, it would be beneficial for the Governing Council and the Turkish authorities to have a direct dialogue on this."

On Tuesday, a suicide car bomber attacked the Turkish mission in Baghdad. As many as 10 people were wounded, but only the bomber was killed.

Governing Council members have said the Coalition Provisional Authority has given assurances that Turkish troops would not be deployed in sensitive areas of the country, including the Kurdish north.

Contacted late Saturday, Governing Council member Yodamin Genna told VOA the council is planning to meet with Turkish officials in an effort to ease what he described as the council's few remaining concerns.