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Turkey, US Close to Agreement on Use of Military Bases - 2003-02-23

Turkish officials say a deal that would allow U.S. troops to use bases in their country is close, but not complete. They are speaking out in interviews on regional and American television.

The task of explaining Turkey's position to the American public fell to Turkish Ambassador to the United States Faruk Logoglu.

He said his government agrees that Iraq must show the world it is rid of all weapons of mass destruction. "I do not think there is any confusion about the fact that Turkey wants to be supportive of the U.S. effort, as sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council," Mr. Logoglu said.

The Bush administration wants to base tens-of-thousands of troops in Turkey that could move into Northern Iraq, if the president decides on military action. Turkey says it needs a massive increase in aid to accommodate the troops.

The ambassador said he cannot comment on the final shape of the agreement, but is confident a deal will be reached. "I believe we are close to one. Over the weekend, even at this very hour, Turkish and American teams are talking in Ankara to finalize agreement on three basic areas: economic, military, and political," he said.

He noted the last word lies with the Turkish parliament, which convenes later this week. He said his country is a democracy and lawmakers know there is substantial anti-war sentiment among the public at large. The ambassador said a second U.N. resolution would help the government in Ankara make its case.

The Turkish ambassador was one of several diplomats from the region who took part in a discussion on Iraq on CNN's Late Edition.

Also appearing on the program was Kuwait's ambassador to Washington, Salem Al-Sabah. He denied his country seeks revenge for the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait more than a decade ago.

"We see our role as being part of the international community. There are very, very clear [Security Council] resolutions. These resolutions command the compliance of Iraq, and they also command the countries of the world to participate in any way they can to ensure their implementation," Mr. Al-Sabah said.

There are about 100,000 U.S. troops deployed in Kuwait, ready to cross the border into Iraq in the event of war.