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U.S., Turkey near agreement on $22 billion aid package

Special to World Tribune.com
MIDDLE EAST NEWSLINE
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

ANKARA The United States is said to have agreed to a $22 billion aid package for Turkey in exchange for Ankara's cooperation with any war against Iraq.

Turkish sources said the U.S. package includes military and economic aid as well as a partial write-off of Ankara's debt to Washington. Another condition includes a U.S. pledge to obtain international loans.

The Turkish daily Vatan provided the following details of the aid package. The newspaper reported on Saturday that the United States agreed to provide $4 billion in grants to Ankara.

In addition, the Bush administration pledged to erase Turkey's $4.7 billion debt to Washington. That debt was incurred over the last decade in purchases of aircraft and other platforms.

Another clause in the aid package is for Washington to supply Turkey with new and surplus military platforms. They include aircraft, naval vessels and a range of ground systems.

Vatan also reported that the United States has pledged to obtain $8 billion in loans from the International Monetary Fund. The money will be used to develop southeastern Turkey.

The United States has also agreed help promote Turkish exports. This will include a 50 percent increase in the quota of Turkish textiles to the United States.

Last week, Turkey and the United States agreed on a memorandum of understanding for the arrival of 150 U.S. military personnel to inspect Turkish bases. The United States wants to use at least six Turkish military bases and three sea ports for deployment of up to 90,000 troops in Turkey.

A full agreement for the U.S. troops has not been reached. But the United States hopes to obtain Turkey approval as early as this weekend during the visit by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers. Turkish sources said Myers had moved up this visit, originally scheduled for Jan. 24.

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