US holds Turkish soldiers in Baghdad, British journalist shot dead
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was to hold telephone discussions with US Vice President Dick Cheney about Turkish soldiers detained in Iraq by US forces, the Turkish government spokesman said early Sunday after a crisis meeting.
Some of the Turkish soldiers reportedly detained in northern Iraq had been released, Erdogan said Saturday of the incident which has provoked a row between Ankara and Washington.
But his foreign minister Abdullah Gul shortly afterwards contradicted this, saying they were being held in Baghdad.
"Some of the soldiers were freed, some are still being held, efforts are continuing" to have the others freed, Erdogan said of the soldiers, who were arrested Friday on suspicion of planning an attack on a Kurdish governor in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
In the middle of the night, Erdogan held a crisis meeting with his military adviser General Koksal Karabay, number two in the foreign ministry Ugur Ziyal and Justice Minister Cemil Cicek, who is also the government spokesman.
"The prime minister will have a conversation at 4:45 pm (1345 GMT) with Dick Cheney concerning our 11 officers and NCOs," Cicek said after the meeting, according to AFP.
"We hope that there will be no more unacceptable events like this," he added.
Cicek said the Turkish side had informed the American authorities of the "sensitivity" of the affair on Turkish public opinion.
Gul denied that any of the military personnel had been released, saying they were in the Iraqi capital. He was quoting from a telephone conversation he had with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to the Turkish television news channel NTV.
Meanwhile, a British journalist was shot and killed outside the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad on Saturday, witnesses said. The British Foreign Office confirmed that a man had been shot.
"We are urgently investigating reports of a British freelance journalist being shot today in Baghdad," a spokesman said, according to AP.
"The foreign office was trying to identify the body of a man thought to be in his mid-20s, at which stage next of kin will be informed."