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Iraq: Turkey Undecided On New Motion To Deploy U.S. Troops

Ankara, 2 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Members of Turkey's ruling party today met to discuss parliament's refusal yesterday to allow U.S. troops to use Turkey as a base for a possible war on Iraq. The meeting was expected to focus on whether to resubmit the motion to parliament, which is scheduled to reconvene on 4 March.

Speaking after the meeting, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said a new motion could be submitted "if deemed necessary."

But another senior party official, Eyup Fatsa, said the motion has been postponed "indefinitely."

Speaking before the meeting, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said parliament's decision will not damage relations with the United States.

"Turkish-American relations are without doubt of a strategic nature. Our friendly relationship with the U.S., which is based on mutual understanding, will continue. One should not reduce [this relationship] to a single motion."

The motion called for the deployment of 62,000 U.S. troops in Turkey as part of a "northern front" against Iraq.