Turkish cabinet agrees to send troops to Iraq

06 October 2003
Turkey's cabinet agreed on 6 October to send troops to Iraq to assist in the US-led peacekeeping force. The decision means that parliament will vote in the coming days on whether 10,000 Turkish soldiers should be sent to help with stabilising Iraq. Cemil Cicek, a government spokesman, said that troops would initially be deployed for no more than one year. 'We hope that they stay for less than one year,' he said. 'Our desire is that parliament will debate the issue tomorrow.' Cicek added that he was sure that parliament would pass the cabinet decision.

Turkish troop involvement in Iraq has been a contentious issue since US authorities asked Ankara if US forces could be based in the country in the build up to the invasion. Turkey agreed on the condition that it was allowed to arrest Kurdish separatists who had fled to northern Iraq. US officials did not accept Turkey's conditions, citing political objections from leaders in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq as the reason. US and Turkish authorities came to an agreement on 2 October that would allow for the arrest of Kurdish separatists in Iraq by US forces in exchange for Turkish military assistance with peacekeeping duties (MEED 3:9:03).

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