Turkey not to send combat troops to Afghanistan

08:25, December 04, 2009      

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Turkey responded coolly to the United States' request for more Turkish forces to be deployed to Afghanistan as officials emphasized the country's policy of keeping its troops out of combat operations in the war-torn country, said local Hurriyet Daily News on its website on Thursday.

Turkey increased its troops in Afghanistan by sending 958 more soldiers last month, said Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul late Wednesday.

"We maintain our reservations about Turkish troops' involvement in military operations and combat in Afghanistan," Gonul said.

In a written statement late Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry expressed hopes that U.S. President Barack Obama's new strategy would bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and vowed to increase its contribution, but in terms of "training and reconstruction works."

"Obama is asking for combat forces who will engage in armed clashes. But it is clear-cut that we do not have such an opportunity," a Turkish diplomat, who asked not to be identified, said Thursday.

The United States urged Turkey to send more troops to Afghanistan after Obama announced his decision to begin a troop surge there, said U.S. ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey on Wednesday.

The semi-official Anatolia news agency reported that Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss the organization's strategy in Afghanistan among other issues.

Turkey took over command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul on Oct. 31. A total of 1,750 Turkish soldiers are currently on duty in Afghanistan; four teams are engaged in training missions.

Source: Xinhua
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