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White House Surprised At Turkish Rejection Of US Troops - 2003-03-03


The United States says Turkey's decision to reject the deployment of US troops for a looming war against Iraq was a "surprise" that complicates US military planning.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday that while there are other ways to accomplish military objectives against Iraq, Turkey's refusal means it will be more difficult, and that the preferred outcome would have been a "yes" vote.

Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said parliament's rejection of U-S troops should not destroy his country's good relations with Washington.

A statement from Mr. Gul's office says he spoke by telephone with U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday, and Mr. Powell assured him that US - Turkish relations are solid and will remain friendly.

Some Turkish officials say they expect there will be another attempt to reach an agreement that would allow 62-thousand US troops into Turkey, in return for billions of dollars in grants and loans to help the country pull out of its economic crisis. However, there is no indication when such legislation could be introduced. Parliament next meets on Tuesday.

Prices on the Istanbul Stock Exchange dropped 11 percent -- the maximum allowed -- as trading opened today for the first time since Saturday's vote. The lira fell by nearly four percent against the dollar, and the central bank said it would intervene in markets, if necessary, to support the Turkish currency.

Opinion polls indicate the people of Turkey overwhelmingly oppose any war in Iraq.

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