Pentagon No. 2 visits Turkey; Iraqi issue tops agenda
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, started an official visit in Turkey on Tuesday to gain support for a military action against neighboring Iraq. Wolfowitz visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, Tuesday morning before meeting Turkish military and civilian leaders amid a political crisis that is shaking the Turkish government.
Wolfowitz will discuss the Iraqi issue with Turkey, which could play a key role if the United States tries to force Saddam Hussein from power, AP reported. Turkish authorities, however, are projected to raise concerns over any military action against Iraq.
Turkey fears that an American attack against Iraq could lead to the formation of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq that borders Turkey. Turkey has fought for 15 years against Kurdish rebels within its borders and does not want the conflict to flare up again if Kurds across the border achieve statehood.
Joining Wolfowitz at the meetings will be Marc Grossman, the No. 3 official at the State Department and the top department official to have met with Iraqi opposition leaders recently. Gen. Joseph Ralston, commander of U.S. European Command, also will attend the talks.
Wolfowitz is also expected to meet with Turkey's ailing premier Bulent Ecevit, whose government is on the verge collapse following a wave defections from his party and bickering among his partners over key European Union reforms. Analysts contend political instability in Turkey could make it more difficult for political leaders to support, at least publicly, any U.S. military action against Iraq. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)