Turkey to decide on Iraq peacekeepers

Turkey's cabinet has said it will ask parliament to consider a motion to deploy peacekeepers in neighbouring Iraq.

    Deputies refused to allow the US to invade Iraq from Turkish soil

    Cabinet spokesman Cemil Cicek said the motion

    would be sent to parliament late on Monday, with a

     vote possibly coming

    as early as Tuesday.

    Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said he believes

    parliament will

    approve the motion despite the assembly's rejection of

    a government request to let US forces deploy on Turkish soil to invade

     Iraq.

    Cicek said government ministers were confident the motion

    would pass.

    Deployment

    "Had we had any doubts, we wouldn't be sending this motion,"

    he said after a five-hour cabinet meeting.

    Cicek said the motion called for a year-long deployment, but

    that it did not specify how many troops would be sent. He gave

    few other details.

    Turkish officials have signalled in the past they could

    commit as many as 10,000 peacekeepers to Iraq.

    Turkey is a key American ally

    They are expected

    to be deployed in Arab Sunni-dominated central Iraq rather than

    in the mainly Kurdish north.

    Kurdish suspicions

    Iraqi Kurds are suspicious of Turkey's intentions in

    northern Iraq, which Turkey considers part of its sphere of

    influence and where it keeps a few thousand troops to pursue

    Turkish Kurdish rebels.

    Any Turkish deployment is seen as an important step in

    improving ties with Washington, badly strained after parliament

    narrowly failed to approve the government's request in March.

    Late last month Washington agreed to provide loans to

    debt-ridden Turkey, worth $8.5 billion.

    Loans

    It stipulated as a

    condition Ankara's cooperation on Iraq, though it denied that

    the aid hinged on the sending of Turkish peacekeepers.

    Financial markets concerned about the loan agreement have

    been watching closely for signs that the government will push

    through the motion.

    The loans are meant to bolster Turkey's economy and to

    compensate for losses incurred during the US-led war in Iraq,

    which most Turks strongly opposed.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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