Turkish troops join Afghan force
ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- An advance group from Turkey's air force and army is preparing to travel to Afghanistan to join the international peacekeepers.
Six members of the Turkish army will leave on Friday for the air base in Kabul to evaluate conditions for their colleagues who will follow.
Another six-member advance team from the Turkish air force will leave at the same time for Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, to lay the groundwork for the force that will be responsible for security at the facility.
The remaining 261 members of the Turkish contingent were expected to depart for Afghanistan within the next week to 10 days.
Britain is leading the U.N. mandated peace force, which will eventually be made up of about 4,500 soldiers from 16 nations, with General John McColl in overall command of the operation.
The international force will do some work to repair Afghanistan's nearly nonexistent infrastructure, such as restoring the Kabul airport.
But its main objective will be to provide security in Kabul, where peacekeepers will work alongside Afghan police.
Conditions in Afghanistan were expected to be on the agenda when Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit meets U.S. President George Bush on Wednesday.
When they meet, Ecevit will present a copy of the Koran to Bush.
Ecevit told state-run Anatolian news agency: "Some wanted to portray action (in Afghanistan) as an attack on Islam.
"Mr. Bush rightfully refuted this and said the U.S. had great respect for Islam. Therefore, we felt it right to present him a copy of the Koran."
Other issues expected to be discussed are the Caucasus and Central Asia, Cyprus, NATO and the European Union, and the Balkans.
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