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RAY SUAREZ: Joining us now to elaborate on the regional concerns about a possible war in Iraq, and the meeting his country hosted today on that topic, is Turkey’s ambassador to the United States, Faruk Logoglu. Mr. Ambassador, welcome to the program.
FARUK LOGOGLU: Thank you.
RAY SUAREZ: What can you tell us about the joint statement released today at the conclusion of the talks by the six countries?
FARUK LOGOGLU: That statement, in fact, just came out a little while ago, and I think we will need some time to interpret every element of it. But the basic thrust of that the declaration is very clear.
It’s a call to Iraq to comply fully, transparently, and unconditionally, with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441. And it was an effort by the countries of the region, the neighbors of Iraq, plus Egypt, to make yet another effort to call on Iraq to resolve this problem by peaceful means.
RAY SUAREZ: Did the countries at the conference consider Iraq already cooperating with the inspectors?
FARUK LOGOGLU: I think there is no judgment in that respect. I think the call is for an active cooperation on the part of Iraq with the United Nations inspectors, but there is no value judgment as to what Iraq has done so far.
RAY SUAREZ: There were quite a range of countries involved — from Iran, which has had fairly difficult relations with the United States in recent years — to your own country of Turkey, which is a NATO ally.
Were your countries able to agree on many of the main principles involving this resolution in Iraq?
FARUK LOGOGLU: I think that’s an interesting question, because, as you say, this is a very varied group. The common denominator is the fact that four of these countries are Iraq’s neighbors. Egypt is a country of the region, a leading country of the region.
But I think what broke brought these countries together is the fact that they were all united on the need to make another effort to see if there is a peaceful resolution to this question and the fact that they would were also united on the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1441. That brought these countries together.
RAY SUAREZ: Given all the preparations in the region for war, given the most recent statements of the United States government, does your government still think that war with Iraq can be avoided?
FARUK LOGOGLU: I think this initiative, plus any activity from now on — on the part of my government or on the part of any other government — will be to see if there is still yet another opportunity to resolve this matter by peaceful means.
It is not really a matter of believing it or not believing it, but it is making sure that you have exhausted all other choices, because war is a choice only when all other choices have been exhausted. And we do not feel that all others choices have been tried yet.
RAY SUAREZ: At the same time as your government was participating and hosting these talks, negotiations continue with the United States over the terms of Turkey’s participation in a possible war with Iraq.
Where do those talks stand?
FARUK LOGOGLU: These are talks at different levels. Let us keep in mind that there is yet no formal decision on the part of this [U.S.] administration to take military action against Iraq.
In Turkey, there is no formal decision taken by the parliament to provide support to the United States.
But the two countries are consulting and working together in the context of their friendship alliance and strategic partnership to prepare themselves for any, and all, contingencies.
The talks that you are referring to are military to military talks, but that does not commit either side to any particular course of action, unless or until there is a political decision in place both here in Washington and also in Turkey.
RAY SUAREZ: There are many component parts to what the United States is looking for in terms of Turkish cooperation. Let me tick some of them off and understand better where they stand.
Has the Turkish government agreed to allow Incirlik Air Force Base to be used as a base from which to attack Iraq, if it comes to that?
FARUK LOGOGLU: These are all matters under discussion. What we can say with confidence is that Turkey has provided a lot of cooperation to the United States in connection with the war in terrorism vis-a-vis Iraq, or in connection with the implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions by Iraq.
Now, in terms of the specific use of this facility — that base or the deployment of troops, these are matters of ongoing consultations, and not really yet tied down to basic political decisions on both sides of the fence, here in Washington and in Ankara, Turkey.
RAY SUAREZ: So your government also has not made clear whether or not Turkish forces would participate in such a war if it was to come to pass?
FARUK LOGOGLU: No. There is no commitment in that respect, but there is the general understanding that Turkey and the U.S. will coordinate their activities in the context of the will of the international community. And for that, they have to wait and see what happens in the Security Council, especially next week after the presentation of the report by the inspectors.
RAY SUAREZ: Help Americans understand what Turkey has at stake in these final stages, when one road or another is going to be chosen.
What does Turkey worry about when it looks over the border at its neighbor Iraq?
FARUK LOGOGLU: Well, our list of worries is a very long one. We are worried about impact of war next door to Turkey — its impact on the Turkish economy, its impact on the Turkish financial system, its impact on oil prices, on tourism; no matter how you look at it, even the talk of war impacts Turkey negatively.
We are also concerned about the post-military action situation; whether or not the military action undertaken is successful, we are worried whether the territory of integrity on political reality of Iraq can be preserved, and if not, all of the tensions it will cause in that difficult region.
RAY SUAREZ: Just over the border from Turkey is the Kurdish northern region of Iraq and some of the large production centers for the oil industry. Does Turkey have a lot at stake in the future of that part of Iraq?
FARUK LOGOGLU: We have a lot at stake in the preservation of the territory of the integrity of the Iraq. That is why we keep emphasizing this, because we feel that the natural resources, including oil in Iraq, should be at the service of all of the people of Iraq, and not any particular group or region. That’s why we are so concerned with what happens after military action takes place, if it does.
RAY SUAREZ: And where do things stand in talks over possible loan guarantees to tide Turkey over if there is a negative impact for war?
FARUK LOGOGLU: The Turkish and American authorities have been conducting talks on this matter.
Both sides have basically put forward their ideas and there is a broad agreement on what Turkey’s needs are, and how well these can be met. But much ultimately hinges on the development of events, with regard to a military action against Iraq.
RAY SUAREZ: Faruk Logoglu is the ambassador from Turkey to the United States. Mr. Ambassador, thanks again.
FARUK LOGOGLU: Thank you.