- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

NICOSIA, Cyprus Turkey said yesterday that it would allow the United States to use its airspace and military bases in the event of a war against neighboring Iraq, provided that Washington acted with the approval of the United Nations.
Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis made the announcement after meeting with visiting Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman, who are in Turkey on a two-day visit to discuss support for an operation against Iraq.
Mr. Yakis said Turkey was against a war but that "if it comes to that, then of course, we will cooperate with the United States because it's a big ally and we have excellent relations with the United States."
Turkey has repeatedly said that any action in Iraq must have U.N. approval. But Mr. Yakis suggested yesterday that another U.N. resolution may be necessary before Turkey gives its approval.
"The present U.N. resolution does not allow the automatic resorting to armed intervention," he said.
According to diplomats in Ankara, Turkey is expected to give the U.S. officials a detailed memorandum on the country's requirements and estimated costs in the event of a war.
This was the first high-level visit by the Bush administration with the new Turkish government of Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, dominated by the Islamist Justice and Development Party.
Turkish officials have estimated the initial economic damage to Turkey at $12 billion, although higher estimates have been made.
The Turks appear most concerned about the possibility that Saddam Hussein's fall and Iraq's fragmentation could lead to the creation of a separate Kurdish state, capable of undermining Turkey's unity.
Mr. Wolfowitz did not answer directly when asked whether the United States had asked for permission to station U.S. troops in Turkey during any war.
"Military and diplomatic planning must proceed because Saddam Hussein must see that we are serious that he is surrounded by the international community," Mr. Wolfowitz said.
Apart from Iraq, Mr. Wolfowitz said that Washington had been working with the International Monetary Fund, which has given Turkey $16 billion in loans to help its economic recovery. Washington played a crucial role in helping Turkey get those loans.
Turkey's support is considered crucial in any war. Turkey is host to 50 U.S. aircraft that patrol a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, and its bases would be needed if Washington opens a northern front against Iraq.
The diplomats said the U.S. officials' talks in Ankara will focus on the Iraq situation as well as on Turkey's concern about the European Union's reluctance to set a date for its membership application at the EU summit in Copenhagen on Dec. 12.
Mr. Grossman's travels will also take him to Athens and Nicosia, where the attention is focused on a new U.N. plan to solve the Cyprus problem. It has been festering since the 1963 breakdown of cooperation between the island's Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.
The plan calls for complicated power sharing between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Turkish territorial concessions and Greek recognition of a separate Turkish Cypriot identity in the north of the Island. The Greek Cypriot government has accepted the plan as the basis for negotiations despite widespread opposition.

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