turkey to send troops to iraq

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    Turkey to send troops to Iraq

    The US is firmly opposed to Turkish troops entering Iraq
    Turkey has said it will send troops into northern Iraq, despite opposition from the US.
    The BBC correspondent in Turkey says there are reports that Turkish troops will cross the border within a few hours.

    The Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said the action was aimed at stopping an influx of refugees from Iraq and preventing what he called terrorist activity".

    Earlier, Turkey agreed to let US warplanes fly over its territory with immediate effect.

    But the US did not agree to Turkish troops entering Iraq, fearing clashes between the Turks and Iraqi Kurdish forces, which control an autonomous area in northern Iraq.

    "We know the Turks think that it's necessary to use the military to establish a humanitarian corridor in the north but frankly we don't agree," a US Government official told Reuters news agency.

    Turkey already has several thousand troops a small distance into Iraq, but Iraqi Kurds oppose their presence, saying they threaten Iraq's territorial integrity.

    Turkey wants to prevent the Kurds from forming a separate state.

    Aid package withdrawn

    Earlier, Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul told reporters the airspace agreement with the US was "in Turkey's interests".

    He announced the decision after talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior military and civilian officials.

    Friday's agreement came after earlier talks between Turkey and US failed to resolve their differences.

    Before the deal was announced, US Secretary of State Colin Powell had said: "At the moment we do not see any need for any Turkish incursions into northern Iraq."

    The US originally asked Turkey to grant permission for 62,000 of its troops to use the country as a launch pad for an attack on Iraq.

    Turkey would have received a multi-billion-dollar compensation package in return.

    US officials say the financial package has now been withdrawn.

    Correspondents say Friday's agreement will make it easier for the US to fly supplies into Iraq.

    Before the announcement, Turkish officials had said any agreement for US aircraft to overfly the country would not extend to allowing them to refuel at Turkish airbases.
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