Turkey, U.S. Nearing Troop Deal

United States and Turkey Flags with U.S.Troops over map of Iraq AP / CBS

Turkey's foreign minister said Friday there was broad agreement with the United States on the conditions for deploying U.S. troops in his country ahead of a possible war in Iraq.

Yasar Yakis did not say when he expected a deal to be reached, saying that depended on ongoing negotiations on some outstanding issues regarding the military, economic and political dimensions of the deployment.

"There is a very broad agreement on all subjects," Yakis said in a broadcast interview. "The remaining issues are not that many, but I think we will be able to overcome the differences and mutually agree."

But as CBS News Correspondent David Martin reports, the agreement must still be submitted to the Turkish parliament and that won't happen until Tuesday when parliament reconvenes. Since some 95 percent on Turks are reported to oppose any war, passage would not be assured.

In the event of war, American planners hope to wage a two-front campaign, with one invasion thrust sprinting down from Turkey to complement the incursion from Kuwait in the south.

With several transport ships waiting offshore to offload equipment for the Army's 4th Division, U.S. officials said earlier this week that they needed an immediate answer from Ankara.

One of the main sticking points has been the size of a U.S. aid package to compensate Turkey for losses incurred in a war, diplomats said, although military and political issues were also outstanding.

Turkey has demanded $10 billion in grants and $20 billion more in loans, while the United States is proposing a grant of around $6 billion.

Negotiators are discussing the possibility that some of the U.S. grant money could be converted in much larger loans, a Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

If Turkey refused U.S. troops, the equipment would have to be sailed to Kuwait and unloaded there, where U.S. military planners are already contending with a backup of ships with deliveries for the invasion force.

Despite the Turkey dispute, was preparations are proceeding apace. According to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the force already on the ground in the region I enough to topple Saddam Hussein.

"I would characterize it as ample," Rumsfeld said of the number of troops positioned in the area during an interview on PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

A U.N. official said Friday that half of the U.N. humanitarian staff in Iraq has left the country over the last two weeks to make a possible evacuation easier in case of war.

Out of about 900 foreigners working for U.N. aid programs in the country, about 450 have left after a recommendation from headquarters in New York, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Late Friday, Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix ordered Iraq on Friday to destroy dozens of its missiles with ranges that violate U.N. limits, and gave Baghdad a March 1 deadline to begin the demolition.

In a four-page letter, Blix told Iraq to hand over to inspectors "for verifiable destruction" all Al Samoud 2 missiles and warheads, SA-2 missile engines configured for use in the missiles, machinery to produce missile motors, and a host of other items.

"The appropriate arrangements should be made so that the destruction process can commence by March 1, 2003," Blix said in the letter.

Blix chose a crucial deadline date — March 1 is the date his next report is due to the Security Council.

Iraq's response to the order will likely be a factor in whether the Security Council approves the resolution for which Powell and other U.S. officials have been lobbying. Washington's goal is to achieve a minimum nine votes on the council, while avoiding a veto by France, Russia or China. All three of those permanent members are opposed to war and prefer to extend the weapons searches.

The U.S. also continues to lay the diplomatic groundwork for possible military action. The U.S. and Britain are planning to present a new resolution authorizing force to the Security Council on Monday.

The U.S.-British strategy, according to the New York Times, is to try to get nine council votes, rather than trying to win over the veto-bearing members who are skeptical of war: China, France and Russia.
  • Brian Dakss

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