Still, it will make no decision on troop deployments before parliament adjourns for its summer recess on 1 August, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul told reporters.

Talks between the US and Turkey over the past few days have centred around a possible role for Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq.

Cooperation between the two countries could also help thaw bilateral relations marred by the US detention  of Turkish special forces last month.

“This is not a matter that will become clear today or tomorrow,” Gul told reporters.

Consultation with the army

The government will have to consult the country’s influential military before any decision can be made, he added.

The US administration is searching for allies to share some of the burden of peacekeeping and reconstruction in war-ravaged Iraq, while Turkey is interested in having a US sanctioned remit to destroy Kurdish strongholds, from which attacks on its troops have been mounted.

Gul refused to comment on press speculation that Turkish soldiers are already carrying out special operations in northern Iraq in conjunction with US troops.

Turkey is concerned that Iraqi Kurds may be plotting to break away from Baghdad.

Were they to declare independence they would control the vast oil wealth around the city of Kirkuk. This, Turkish officials have reasoned, could encourage its own Kurdish population to rebel.