- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

From combined dispatches
ANKARA Turkey's parliament is likely to vote today on a government deal agreeing to U.S. requests for overflight rights in an attack on Iraq, but Ankara refused to allow American planes to land and refuel, even at a base long used by U.S. and British planes to patrol the no-fly zone in northern Iraq.
The new government motion comes after lawmakers earlier this month rejected a motion to allow troops into the country.
Asked yesterday whether the authorization would also include the right to use Turkish air bases and the right to refuel, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "No, none of these are included," the Anatolia news agency reported.
The United States would not be able to use Incirlik air base, a sprawling facility that already houses 50 U.S. fighters used to patrol a no-fly zone over Iraq. In the event of a war, those fighters will not be able to fly over Iraq.
With a package of $15 billion in grants and loans at stake for Turkey's struggling economy, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul kept the door open to broader support at a later date.
For months, the United States had pressed Turkey NATO's only Muslim member to admit 62,000 soldiers for a northern front against Iraq, even offering a package of $15 billion in grants and loans to compensate Turkey for any losses incurred in the war.
U.S. warplanes based in Europe and the United States would need to cross Turkey to strike Iraq; the United States could also use Turkish airspace to ferry troops into northern Iraq.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had conferred on the subject with Mr. Gul, his Turkish counterpart.
The Bush administration said yesterday the question of financial aid was not dead yet.
"The White House has not ruled out assistance for Turkey in this matter," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
Even so, Turkish stock markets tumbled yesterday out of fear the U.S. aid package was lost. The benchmark Istanbul Stock Exchange National-100 index dropped about 6 percent.
In New York, meanwhile, France, Germany and Russia sent their foreign ministers to the U.N. Security Council, where they called U.S. decision to go to war illegal.
The Security Council meeting was officially called to hear the latest report by chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix, who was disappointed that inspections were curtailed after 3 months.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said no U.N. Security Council resolution authorized the use of force against Iraq outside the U.N. charter and "not one of them authorizes the violent overthrow of the leadership of a sovereign state."
The Russian, French and German ministers, as well as Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara of Syria, asked that inspections be allowed to continue.
U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte called the proposal "out of touch with reality."
But British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said he saw a role for U.N. inspectors in verifying disarmament after the war was over.
"A more definitive work program will be possible when there is an administration in Iraq which is prepared to cooperate fully, actively and unconditionally," he said.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said: "To those who think that the scourge of terrorism will be eradicated through what is done in Iraq, we say that they run the risk of failing in their objective."
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, like Mr. Ivanov, said: "There is no basis in the U.N. charter for a regime change with military means."
The United States maintains that Resolution 1441, adopted by a 15-0 vote Nov. 8 and giving Iraq a final chance to disclose its weapons of mass destruction, legally justifies war.

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