Turkish Government to Discuss Motion on US Troop Deployment Tuesday

The Turkish cabinet will decide Tuesday whether to table a new motion on allowing in US troops to set up a northern front against Iraq, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener said later Monday.

"Tomorrow, the cabinet will hold an emergency meeting to discussthe resolution," Sener said after an emergency meeting of senior government officials.

The minister made the remarks after an emergency meeting convened by President President Ahmed Necdet Sezer and also attended by Deputy Minister and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Chief of General Staff Hilmi Ozkok and other senior officials.

The officials agreed that the government would urgently take action to approve the deployment of 62,000 US troops as the war is approaching with the failure of the last-ditch diplomatic efforts at the United Nations earlier Monday.

"The government will evaluate the situation and take urgent decisions," presidential spokesman Tacan Ildem told reporters afterthe meeting. He refused to give details on the contents of the new government motion.

Under the public pressure in this mostly Muslim country, the Turkish parliament narrowly rejected on March 1 a government motionon approving the US troop deployment.

Offering a huge aid package deal, Washington has been pressing Ankara hard to approve its demand for troop deployment for a war against Iraq. Such a front is believed to quicken the US military thrust into Iraq to oust President Saddam Hussein.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul confirmed earlier Monday that he held a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, without giving details.

The hastily-called meeting Monday was held after the United States, Britain and Spain abandoned plans to table a draft resolution to the UN Security Council on authorizing use of force against Iraq.

With the window of diplomacy closed, the US-led war against Iraqis now more imminent than ever.

US President George W. Bush is scheduled to address the nation later on Monday, presumably announcing an ultimatum for Iraqi President Saddam to leave his country or face war.



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