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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warns Iraq has descended into civil war and says the U.S. should set a timetable for withdrawing troops.
Mr. Prime Minister, welcome. Thank you for joining us.
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, Prime Minister of Turkey: Thank you.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell this Sunday referred to the situation in Iraq as a civil war. Do you think Iraq has slid into at least a de facto civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites?
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN:
At the moment, the number of people who have died in sectarian violence exceeds, according to some figures, 650,000.
Now, this figure in itself suggests that there is a civil war ongoing in Iraq, because when you have that many people who have died as a result of a conflict that is taking place, that could only be explained as a civil war.
With respect to some talk and discussions that is ongoing about the division of Iraq, that is something that we do not even want to think about, because for us the territorial integrity for Iraq is very important. The territorial integrity of Iraq is important for Iran and Syria and all the neighboring countries in the region.
So if we can read what is happening now and try to project into the future, then we should try to make sure that things run smoothly and that there is no division of Iraq. And in that respect, the Baker-Hamilton report is an important report that we have to look at.
And if we can control the future about what is going on, then we can prevent this civil war from growing. Turkey's always ready to contribute whatever Turkey can, ensuring that a good outcome comes out of Iraq.
And let me also say whatever we have said about Iraq from the beginning has come to pass in Iraq.
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