UK seeks Turkish overflight rights

20 March 2003
The UK has asked Turkey to allow its warplanes to use Turkish airspace for attacks on Iraq, Turkish diplomatic sources were reported as saying by Reuters on 20 March.

Turkey's parliament was due to vote later in the day on a resolution that would allow foreign aircraft overflight rights and authorise Turkish forces to move into northern Iraq. The British request is reported to have been made in a telephone call between UK Foreign Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary Jack Straw and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on 19 March. The UK requested overflight rights as well as permission to deploy troops from Turkey earlier this year as part of its planning for a war in Iraq.

Parliament is expected to approve the motion to allow foreign aircraft to fly across Turkish territory into northern Iraq. Deputies on 1 March rejected a motion that would have allowed 62,000 U.S. troops to deploy from Turkey for an attack on Iraq. Sources in Ankara say the new vote may be by a show of hands rather than a secret electronic vote, reducing the likelihood of rebellion against the party leadership. Parliament will also be asked to vote to permit Turkish troops to enter northern Iraq.

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