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|Friday, June 08, 2001, updated at 09:21(GMT+8)|
Turkish President Vows to Improve Ties with IraqTurkish President Ahmed Necdet Sezer stated on Thursday that lasting peace and stability in Iraq could be brought about only if the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq were preserved, reported the Anatolia News Agency.
"Sanctions on Iraq, which have been in force for the last 10 years, have not only hurt the Iraqi people, but also caused great economic loss to Turkey," said Sezer who was visiting the southeastern province of Sanliurfa which borders Iraq.
"Our people of southeastern region have been negatively affected by the sanctions, and Turkey has had to shoulder huge economic and social strains in the post-Gulf War era," he added.
Sezer emphasized that the U.N. Security Council should definitely take into consideration the interests of the neighboring countries and the new sanctions policy should not include such measures that would make life even more difficult for the Iraqi people.
"These sanctions should not increase the burden already shouldered by neighboring countries," he said, referring to the so- called "smart sanctions" advocated by the United States and Britain.��
The "smart sanctions" were designed to ease restrictions on civilian imports while tightening control on military-related materials and cracking down on oil smuggling from Iraq.
The U.N. Security Council should be in close cooperation with countries such as Turkey, which is directly affected by the U.S.- backed sanctions, he said.
The president said: "This will be the primary criteria for the success of the new sanctions policy."
Out of its own national interests, Turkey has distanced itself from the U.S. policy regarding Iraq.
During his meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday, Prime Minister Bulent stressed that Iraq should not be divided; Washington should have consultations with Turkey on new sanctions; and Turkey's interests should not be compromised by the "smart sanctions" or any other sanctions imposed on Iraq.
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