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Turkey Pledges Not to Work With Hussein

September 24, 1996|NORMAN KEMPSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

UNITED NATIONS — Turkish Foreign Minister Tansu Ciller reassured U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on Monday that her government will not cooperate in any way with Iraqi President Saddam Hussein despite a "vacuum of power" in northern Iraq that jeopardizes Turkish security.

"We have stood by our ally, the United States, and we hope to expand that," Ciller told reporters before a 40-minute meeting with Christopher. That session was dominated by the situation in northern Iraq, where the Iraqi army's attack last month on the city of Irbil prompted U.S. cruise missile barrages against Iraqi military targets in the south.

State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the meeting "reflected the fact that the United States and Turkey have identical views on northern Iraq."

For Christopher, the talks were the first encouraging news in weeks concerning the fraying international coalition that fought against Iraq in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Turkey, most Arab members of the coalition, France and Russia all expressed doubts about the U.S. attacks on antiaircraft missile sites in southern Iraq. U.S. policymakers were especially concerned that Turkey, which replaced its pro-Western government with a Cabinet led by an Islamic fundamentalist party earlier this year, was pulling away from the coalition.

On Saturday, Ciller was quoted by the New York Times as saying that Turkey was ready to cooperate with Hussein if the Iraqi leader sought to "put an end to terrorist infiltration" into Turkey by guerrillas of the anti-Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) faction of Kurds. But Ciller said Monday that she had been misunderstood. She said Turkey is determined to stop the influx of refugees and PKK guerrillas across the Iraq-Turkey border, "but we cannot ask Saddam to do that for us."

Burns said the interview "caused anxiety in Washington." But after the meeting, he said: "We are now satisfied by what we heard from Ciller."

Burns said Christopher and Ciller also agreed to encourage Kurdish faction leader Masoud Barzani, whose Democratic Party of Kurdistan militia joined in the Iraqi attack on Irbil, to form a new alliance with ethnic Turkish residents of the region.

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