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Turkey, Syria Seek to Avert War in Iraq

January 05, 2003|From Associated Press

DAMASCUS, Syria — Turkey and Syria urged a peaceful solution to the U.S.-Iraq standoff after leaders from the nations held talks Saturday. The discussions were part of Turkey's efforts to reinforce ties with the Arab world ahead of a possible war.

Turkey is opposed to military action in Iraq, its southeastern neighbor. But it also depends on Washington's support for massive international loans and has not ruled out allowing U.S. forces to use Turkish bases to attack Iraq, as was done in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"We still believe that this problem can be solved without war," Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said after meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. "Turkey and Syria agreed to coordinate efforts to bring a peaceful solution."

Gul urged Iraq to cooperate with U.N. arms inspectors. The U.S. has threatened to disarm Iraq by force if it doesn't cooperate fully with inspectors.

Assad urged the United Nations and countries in the region to work hard to avert a U.S.-led war on Iraq, Syria's official news agency said. Syria is one of the most vocal opponents of any attack on Iraq.

Gul's diplomatic initiative is seen by many analysts as a bid to show Turks that the government was doing all it can to prevent a war.

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