Iraq Minister Says Turkey Unlikely to Send Troops

DUBAI (Reuters)–Iraq’s foreign minister said on Sunday it was looking increasingly unlikely that Turkey would send troops to Iraq after Baghdad voiced its opposition.

"This subject is still under study but all the indicators show it may not happen…I think this is positive,” Hoshiyar Zebari–a Kurd appointed by Iraq’s US-backed Governing Council–told Dubai-based Al Arabiya television from London.

"The indicators are encouraging because there is a halt and a review of the matter–especially since the Governing Council unanimously said it does not want troops from neighboring states to participate in peacekeeping due to sensitivities and because these countries may have their own agenda,” he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quoted on Friday as saying the United States had asked for a break in talks on the issue. He gave no reason.

Turkey’s parliament agreed to offer troops for one year–but Erdogan has said he preferred not to send troops if Iraqis did not want them–although the decision rested with Washington.

Iraqi Kurds in northern Iraq are particularly hostile to Turkey. The accuse Ankara of trying to stir up ethnic tensions between them and the Turkmen minority in Iraq and stifle the Kurds’ federal ambitions.

A UN resolution earlier this month improved chances of winning military support from less controversial contributors. Zebari also criticized France and Germany for not pledging enough funds for Iraq at the Madrid donors’

conference.

Paris and Berlin–which opposed the US-led war on Iraq–are contributing heavily to a pledge of 200 million euros ($235.3 million) from the European Union’s budget. Some of their European partners made larger bilateral pledges.

"The French and German positions did not meet expectations and were disappointing to Iraqis because they are important countries and are known for their capabilities,” he said.

"I think their decision will harm them because Iraqis will not forget who supported them and who did not.”

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