Turkey's Foreign Minister Yasir Yakis says he expects NATO will automatically rally to his country's defense in the event of an attack by Iraq.
Mr. Yakis told reporters Turkey is a NATO member and the alliance treaty requires other member states to come to its aid with all necessary means if it comes under threat from a third country. The Turkish minister made his comments at the White House following talks with President Bush. He said the discussions also included possible U-S economic aid to Turkey to counter the economic impact of instability in the Middle East in the event of military operations in Iraq.
NATO this week repeatedly delayed action on planning of military support for Turkey in advance of a possible war in Iraq. Germany, France, and Belgium are blocking agreement until the U-N Security Council acts on the Iraqi crisis. They say efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the Iraqi crisis must come before sending military equipment to Turkey -- the only member state that borders Iraq.
Thursday, German Defense Minister Peter Struck said NATO's decision is not expected until Saturday or later. A NATO spokesman in Brussels said a meeting of the North Atlantic Council -- ambassadors from the 19 NATO member states -- could be delayed until next week.