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Turkey PM Seeking Ways to Avert Iraq War - 2003-01-05

Turkey's Prime Minister says he is looking for ways to prevent a war against Iraq. Abdullah Gul is currently traveling the Mideast in an effort to resolve the crisis and convince Baghdad to comply with U.N. calls to disarm. During a stop in Cairo, he made an appearance, via satellite, on American television.

The Turkish leader says Iraq's neighbors have a responsibility to come together and seek a non-violent solution. "I think still there is a chance to find peace so we have to exhaust all the possibilities," he said.

He told CNN's Late Edition that Iraq's Saddam Hussein must live up to his obligations to the United Nations. "They have to fulfill their U.N. resolution and they have to cooperate and they have to be transparent and open and they have to take all the steps to convince that Iraq is free of these dangerous weapons," he said.

Prime Minister Gul was then asked if his country would provide access to American troops in the event United States President George W. Bush decides to use force to disarm Iraq. He said the U.S. and Turkey are allies and their relationship is deep. But he refused to make any commitments on the use of Turkish bases.

"Well of course, the parliament will decide for that," he said. "We are a democratic country and according to our constitution there are certain things that only parliament decides for that."

Speaking on another Sunday news program on U.S. television, a key member of the United States Senate said war with Iraq is becoming more likely by the day. During an interview on the CBS program Face the Nation, Arizona Republican John McCain predicted President Bush will make a decision in a matter of weeks.

"I think it becomes more and more likely everyday," he said. "I agree with the president saying it is the last option and he hasn't made the decision yet. And I think it is entirely appropriate. But we are seeing the United States assuming a military posture which makes it likely that we will act. We'll know in a few weeks, as we all know."

U.N. weapons inspectors working in Iraq are due to report by January 27. On ABC's This Week, Senator John Edwards was asked what the Bush administration should do if the inspectors ask for another six months to search for weapons of mass destruction. The North Carolina Democrat, who recently announced he is seeking his party's 2004 presidential nomination, was blunt. "Now, what this declaration and the evaluation of this declaration shows I think still remains to be seen," he said. "But at the end of the day, if we believe there is a substantial breach, if we don't believe that Saddam is in the process in fact of disarming, then I believe military action is something we should be willing to do."

President Bush sent his own warning to Saddam Hussein last Friday during a visit to an army base in Texas. He told thousands of young soldiers that America is ready to fight if Iraq refuses to disarm.