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Iraq: Turkey Might Send Troops To Protect Iraqi Turkmen

Ankara, 3 January 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said today that Turkey might send troops into northern Iraq to protect ethnic Turkmen. He said that if order collapses in Iraq in the event of a U.S. attack, Turkey might act to protect what he called "our Turkmen brothers." In an interview on NTV private television, Yakis said also that he opposes allowing U.S. troops to use Turkish bases for attacking Iraq. But, he said, he thinks the United States is correct in sending troops to the Gulf as an element of pressure on Iraq.

Earlier today a spokesperson for President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said that war remains avoidable and that Turkey remains hopeful a peaceful solution can be found.

The office of Prime Minister Abdullah Gul announced today that Gul will be visiting Syria, Egypt, and Jordan over the next few days for talks on developments in the region.