Turkey Insists on Maintaining National Security by Itself

The Turkish government asserted on Monday that it would take whatever measures necessary to maintain its national security, reported the Anatolian News Agency.

"We will do whatever we will do for our security and humanitarian purposes. Turkey has full resolveness and preparation for that," declared government spokesman Cemil Cicek after a cabinet meeting.

After months of negotiations, Turkey agreed to provide low-level support for the United States in its war against Iraq by opening its airspace to US planes.

The decision, which fell far short of addressing an original US request to allow deployment of 62,000 US troops and 255 war planes on Turkish soil, has strained Ankara's ties with the United States.

Turkey's demand to send its own troops to northern Iraq has added to the tension, as Washington made clear its opposition to such plans.

Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush's special envoy for the Iraq issue Zalmay Khalilzad gave assurances in Ankara that its security concerns would be addressed although Washington stands against Turkish troop deployment in northern Iraq.

During his meeting with Turkish diplomats on Monday, Khalilzad said Iraqi Kurdish militiamen, Peshmargas, would not enter oil-rich northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Huseyin Dirioz made it clear that Turkey would deal with the terror threat on its own and would not want anybody else to handle it.

The United States, which has special forces working with Kurdish Peshmargas militants, has told Ankara bluntly it should not send troops into northern Iraq.

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