- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 4, 2003

ANKARA, Turkey, March 4 (UPI) — The Turkish government on Tuesday was considering revising and reintroducing a resolution to allow the United States to station troops in Turkey for a possible northern front attack on Iraq.

However, the measure, which the Parliament turned down in a vote Saturday, would not be brought before the legislature for at least two weeks, a government official said.

Deputy Prime Minister Ertugrul Yalcinbayir said both the government and the ruling party is evaluating a resolution.

"This would come before the Parliament under the new conditions when the picture gets clearer in the coming days," he said.

Prime Minister Abdullah Gul asked about a new resolution refrained from giving a definite answer but said "the process was continuing."

Gul, before leaving for Wednesday's extraordinary meeting of the Islamic Conference Organization in Qatar, indicated that the government was keeping lines open with the United States.

"It's nothing like it's finished," he said.

"The U.S. which is our strategic partner and Turkey both understand each other's concern," he said, "At the moment mutual understanding prevails."

The tendency is to wait for two or three weeks until after by-elections that could pave the way for a change in government and make Tayyip Erdogan prime minister, a senior member of the party said.

"The atmosphere would then be changed a bit and the U.N. Security Council would have given its second resolution, all of which would make us see the picture more clearly," he told the United Press International.

Gul and his Cabinet are expected to resign to hand in the premiership to the leader of the AK party, Erdogan, if he is elected in the by-elections, which are expected to be in mid-March.

Robert Pearson, the U.S. ambassador in Ankara after meeting Tuesday with Gul, said he remained hopeful of a new resolution and noted that U.S. officials were working with Turkey.

Since Parliament's rejection of the resolution to station up to 62,000 U.S. combat troops, leaders of the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AK party) have been evaluating ways to overcome the impact it had created.

The United States had reportedly guaranteed a large sum of financial support for Turkey should the parliament go along with U.S. wishes. Asked about that assistance, Pearson said there won't be any such aid until an agreement with Ankara is made, which he said, "In any case the idea was to offset Turkey's losses in any war."

The Istanbul Stock Exchange on Monday plunged more than 12 percent on the parliament's vote since traders had relied on the expected financial assistance of up to $20 billion from Washington. The markets steadied Tuesday.

The government Monday submitted the 2003 budget to the Parliament which include new revenue and spending measures, including the cutting off of bonuses for the public workers and support to farmers.

Talking to his party members, Erdogan said that Turkey will not be "a watcher" in the developments taking place in its region.

Noting he understood the sensitivity of the lawmakers when blocking the U.S. troops, "We, however, have to look at a broader picture, the problem we are facing now can not be solved by a simple 'no' or 'yes,'" he said.

"The government might make a surprise," he later told reporters.

Erdogan also warned Iraqi Kurds not to "play a dangerous game," and said: "Nobody should exploit Turkey's sensitivity and assume an artificial courage"

Iraqi Kurds staged street demonstrations protesting Turkey's presence in northern Iraq. Burning Turkish flags, the Iraqi Kurds shouted slogans against Turkish troops and said they wanted only the U.S. troops.

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