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Powell denies Iraq in U.S. sights

Powell (file pic)
Powell: "We are concerned abpout Iraq"  

ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- The U.S. has reassured Turkey that no decision has been made about widening the war against terror to include Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Turkish leaders on Wednesday that recommendations for the future direction of any military campaign in the anti-terrorist drive had not yet been presented to President George W. Bush.

Bush has expressed concern that Iraq has been a sponsor of terror -- promoting speculation that it will be the next target -- but Turkey is against beginning a new campaign against Baghdad and President Saddam Hussein.

Powell was in Turkey -- a key NATO ally -- on day two of an eight-day 10-nation tour aimed at laying out plans for rebuilding Afghanistan.

He met Turkish politicians as Afghan leaders meeting near Bonn, Germany, signed an accord that could pave the way to future elections.

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"Now the real work is ahead as we put that interim government in place and find out what support they will need," Powell said.

But despite the peace deal from Bonn it was the future of the military campaign against terror that concerned Turkey.

At a press conference Powell said: "The president has indicated we are concerned about Iraq and we are doing everything we can to keep it from getting weapons of mass destruction.

"We also know Iraq has been a sponsor of terrorism over the years but the president has made no decisions about the next phase of our campaign against terrorism.

"No decisions have been made and no recommendations have been offered to the president."

Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem told the press conference that Turkey and the U.S. agreed Iraq needed to comply with United Nations resolutions if it was to garner international goodwill.

Cem said he believed his country -- the only predominantly Muslim member of NATO -- should have an important role in future Afghanistan operations.

"A victory (in Afghanistan) is a victory for all those who want a peaceful world. Terrorism does not have a religion, geography or justification.

"We believe Turkey has an important role in Afghanistan due to its historical friendship. We are looking forward to enhancing that cooperation."

Britain, Germany and France have all offered troops to help secure Afghanistan and guarantee aid supplies after the collapse of the Taliban.

On Tuesday Powell attended a meeting of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe foreign ministers where he said some members could do more in the fight against international terrorism.

The OSCE consists of the United States, Canada, all European countries and former Soviet republics in central Asia.

Powell visits NATO on Thursday and Friday and then heads for Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Germany, France and Britain.


• Powell: Do more to stop terror
December 4, 2001

• U.S. State Department

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