NATO has formally approved the deployment of defensive equipment to Turkey ahead of a possible war in Iraq.
NATO's Defense Planning Committee made the decision today (Wednesday) to deploy AWACS surveillance aircraft, Patriot anti-missile defense systems and chemical-biological response units. It is not clear when the equipment will be sent.
The United States welcomed the decision. U-S NATO ambassador Nicholas Burns said alliance solidarity has prevailed.
Wednesday's action follows the Defense Planning Committee's decision Sunday to authorize the start of military planning to defend Turkey, ending a stalemate over the issue within the alliance. France, which opposed the move, is not a member of the committee.
NATO Secretary General George Robertson is due to meet with President Bush later on Wednesday in Washington.
Meanwhile, Washington is growing anxious to reach an agreement with Ankara to allow the deployment of U-S forces on Turkish soil for a potential attack against Iraq.
But Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Abdullatif Sener said today (Wednesday) that the United States has not yet met Turkey's demands for the size and scope of an aid package. Parliament postponed a vote Tuesday on the issue and Mr. Sener said a vote will not take place until an aid package is approved.
Reports say Turkey is asking for up to 50-billion dollars in U-S loans and grants -- more than twice as much as the Bush administration originally offered.