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Turkey's PM Ends Mideast Visit Aimed at Preventing Iraq War - 2003-01-06

Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul Monday concluded a three-country tour of the Middle East with a stop in Jordan, where he discussed efforts to avert war on Iraq.

After meeting in Jordan with King Abdullah and Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb, Prime Minister Gul told reporters that the consequences of a war on Iraq would be disastrous. He said Iraq's neighbors will be the big losers, facing political and financial instability.

Turkey and Jordan share extensive borders and economic ties with Iraq. Iraq provides Jordan with oil and is the kingdom's biggest trading partner.

Jordanian officials briefed Mr. Gul on steps they have taken to cushion the impact of a possible war, including building a strategic two-month oil stockpile.

Jordanian officials also said they share Turkey's hopes that Washington will provide compensation for the damage a war would have on their economies.

NATO member Turkey is under pressure from the United States to give military support, as it did during the 1991 Gulf War, if there is a war against Iraq. But Mr. Gul said a decision to allow U.S. troops to be based in Turkey can only be decided by the Turkish parliament.