No US Aid for Turkey Without Troop Deal

ANKARA (Reuters)–The US ambassador to Ankara put a multi-billion dollar aid package to Turkey on the line on Tuesday–saying the offer of financial help was at risk if there was no agreement on the deployment of American troops.

"Without the agreement there is no financial package,” US ambassador Robert Pearson told reporters after talks with Prime Minister Abdullah Gul in the capital.

"One of our original purposes was that the financial package could be of assistance to the Turkish economy during a time of stress. That was the reason why we proposed it,” he said.

Financial markets plunged after Turkish lawmakers at the weekend narrowly voted down the motion to open military facilities to some 62,000 US soldiers. Investors fear Turkey could now face a war in neighbor Iraq without US support worth up to $30 billion in gran’s and loan guarantees.

Parliament’s stunning vote against the motion threatens to undermine the Bush administration’s military planning against Baghdad–accused of building weapons of mass destruction.

Ten US warships laden with equipment for 30,000 troops are presently waiting off Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

Analysts have said a secondary "northern front” from Turkey to relieve a main invasion into Iraq’s south could shorten any war and limit the number of American casualties.

The ruling Justice and Development Party said it was considering resubmitting a motion. Markets climbed higher on Tuesday after sharp falls the previous day on hopes parliament would eventually vote to allow the US deploymen’s.

Asked whether Washington wanted parliament to vote on a second motion–Pearson said: "We have hopes–as we always have had–of working closely with Turkey.”

Pearson said he would brief Washington after learning Gul’s "best perspective on what lies ahead… We will work on the basis of the advice that Turkey has given us.”

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