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Turkey Set For EU Entry Talks After Historic Agreement

3 October 2005 -- Turkey looks set to open European Union entry talks tonight after reaching an historic last-ditch deal with the 25-nation bloc.

Foreign Minister Jack Straw of Britain, the current EU president, said tonight that EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg had approved a framework for opening the talks. The breakthrough came after Turkey said Ankara had agreed with the EU's negotiating road map.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters in Ankara the agreement marked the start of a "new era." Gul is now en route to Luxembourg, where he will join his EU counterparts tonight the ceremonial start of the negotiations.

EU foreign ministers have haggled since yesterday to overcome Austrian opposition to opening the talks.

Vienna had wanted to offer overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey "privileged partnership" short of membership -- an option Ankara strongly rejected.

(compiled from agency reports)