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Iraq: Albright Expresses Regret Over Errant Missile

Cairo, 27 January 1999 (RFE/RL) - U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright today expressed regret about an errant U.S. missile that exploded Monday in a residential neighborhood of Basra, Iraq. But Albright, who made the comments after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said the United States will continue to enforce the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. The talks in Cairo, focusing largely on the Iraq crisis, come amidst increasing criticism from Arab states about U.S. policy on Iraq.

In Ankara today, Foreign Minister Ismail Cem said the United States does not have permission to launch attacks on Iraq from Turkish bases. Cem said the task of American planes at the joint Incirlik airbase in southeastern Turkey is solely to fly reconnaissance missions over northern Iraq. But he said Ankara does not object to retaliatory attacks against Iraqi anti-aircraft sites.

Turkey's semi-official Anatolia news agency reports increased activity at Incirlik today. Anatolia says 17 U.S. warplanes took off by midday along with six tanker aircraft, four transport planes and an AWAC radar plane.

The increased activity comes after President Bill Clinton yesterday gave U.S. pilots wider authority to attack Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites, which Iraq has been deploying in increasing numbers during the past week.