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[casi] Turks snub Iraqi (Kurdish) FM's 'stay away' plea

            Turks snub 'stay away' plea
             Iraqi foreign minister rejects Ankara's possible troop

            A Turkish army special unit that served as a peacekeeping force
in Afghanistan in a file photo. The new Iraqi foreign minister yesterday
rejected possible Turkish troop presence in his country.

            SIVAS/DUBAI (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan shrugged off comments yesterday by Iraq's new foreign minister that
Turkish peacekeeping troops would not be welcome in Iraq, saying Ankara
would make its own decision.

            Iraqi Foreign Affairs Minister Hoshyar Zebari said neighboring
states such as Turkey should not send troops into his country because they
would pursue their own political agenda.

            Zebari made his remarks shortly after the United States said it
would propose to the UN Security Council a resolution designed to induce
countries such as Turkey to contribute troops to a multinational
peacekeeping force in Iraq.

            Asked about a possible Turkish role in the peacekeeping force,
Zebari said: "Our neighboring countries have their own political agendas,
which they could bring with them to Iraq, thus causing more instability in

            "The Iraqi minister's statement reflects his own opinion. We
have committees working there (in Iraq) at the moment and we will make an
assessment," Erdogan told reporters after a cabinet meeting in the city of
Sivas, 400 kilometers (270 miles) east of Ankara.

            Zebari, a Kurd, also criticized Turkey's intervention in
northern Kurd-dominated areas of Iraq. "There is a problem with the Turkish
forces' military intervention in the northern Kurdish areas, which created
many problems and complications," he said. "We hope such interventions will
not take place, because they would further complicate matters."

            Turkey considers the mainly Kurdish north of Iraq to be an area
of strategic interest. It has kept a small contingent of troops there since
the 1990s, combating Turkish-Kurdish separatist rebels operating from the
mountains there.

            Turkey is consulting with US officials and different ethnic and
religious groups in Iraq on the feasibility of a Turkish peacekeeping role
in that country, not in the north but probably in the central region.

            Washington wants Turkey, which is NATO's only Muslim member, to
quickly commit troops. But Erdogan must win over a skeptical public and
parliamentary deputies who in March rejected a motion to allow US troops to
invade Iraq from Turkish soil.

            Erdogan and Turkey's powerful military establishment are known
to back sending troops, on condition that the US does more to curb
Turkish-Kurdish rebels, who this week called off a five-year ceasefire.

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