Turkey allows U.S. use of 7 ports, 6 airports

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

ANKARA Turkish officials said the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has approved the U.S. military use of seven sea ports and six airports. They said the facilities would be used for the transport of U.S. military cargo.

A decree published on Sept. 1 in Turkey's Official Gazette listed the ports eligible for use by the U.S. military as Agalar, Aksaz-Karaagac, Antalya, Incerlik, Iskenderun, Izmir and Yumurtalik. The airports that would be available to the U.S. military for cargo shipments were identified as Aksaz-Dalaman, Ankara, Antalya, Incirlik, Istanbul and Izmir.

Officials stressed that Ankara's decision fell short of U.S. demands. They said the United States has sought the unlimited use of all Turkish ports and airports for military shipments, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Turkish decision came as officials have been denying persistent reports of the military's plans to invade Iraq. The reports asserted that the military has sought approval from Erdogan for a counter-insurgency campaign against the presence of the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq.

The PKK was said to have about 3,000 insurgents in northern Iraq and has been using the area to launch cross-border attacks in southeastern Turkey.

So far, senior Turkish officials have not ruled out military action against the PKK in Iraq.

"The United States is not yet in a position to launch a military operation against the PKK," Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said. "We shall not proceed by relying on another country. We know how to deal with our enemy."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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