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Turkey troops 'for western Iraq'


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. will try to negotiate a deal allowing Turkish peacekeepers to be deployed in western Iraq, far from Iraqi Kurds in the north, a U.S. military official tells CNN.

The move, as requested by the United States, could lead to the first contingent of Muslim peacekeepers being sent to Iraq.

However, the official cautioned it is not clear that Turkey will ever send the troops, which were approved by the Turkish parliament Tuesday.

Any such deployment was immediately condemned by Iraq's Governing Council, worried Turkish troops will set up a base of operations in northern Iraq to oppose Iraqi Kurds there.

Some Turkish political groups have also expressed strong opposition.

The U.S. military official said any discussions with the Turks about deploying to far western Iraq would include specific arrangements that would prevent any permanent presence in the north.

Analysts say a Turkish deployment would help relieve pressure on U.S. forces in Iraq and bolster Ankara's ties with Washington after a period of strain.

The Bush administration welcomed the decision.

"The United States believes Turkish troops would contribute to stability in Iraq, and we will be consulting closely with the Turkish government over the details of Turkish participation," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

Officials have said the United States requested about 10,000 troops.

Turkey -- the main remnant of the Ottoman Empire which ruled what is now Iraq -- is viewed with suspicion by many Iraqis, particularly Kurds, who share a defacto border with the country.

-- CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report


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