Powell Seeks Restraints on Turkish Forces

In an attempt to close the rift between them, the United States and Turkey agreed Wednesday on an "early warning" system to reduce the infighting between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds.

The agreement, worked out by Secretary of State Colin Powell and Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, is supposed to reduce the chance of Turkey sending military forces into northern Iraq.

The United States fears any fresh deployment of Turkish troops could lead to conflict with local Kurdish groups and disrupt the U.S. war effort.

The move comes as leaders of the two countries are trying to mend fences after the Turkish parliament refused a U.S. aid package in return for allowing U.S. troops to use the country as a launching pad for the war in Iraq.

At a joint news conference, Gul said that "new doors will open for us" in cooperating with the United States.

Turkey agreed to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Iraqi civilians and fuel supplies to coalition forces. Gul said coalition planes in distress are allowed to use Turkish airfields for landing, and Turkey would also help evacuated wounded coalition soldiers.

None of these issues, Gul said, would require a new measure in parliament.

Gul said "Turkey is within the coalition," and that overflights of Turkish territory by coalition combat aircraft would continue.

"The visit of Secretary Powell has strengthened our relations and helped to dispel all issues with regard to relations between the two countries," he said.

"We have solved all of the outstanding issues with respect to providing supplies through Turkey to those units who are doing such a wonderful job in northern Iraq to keep the situation in northern Iraq stable," Powell said at the press conference.

Powell said he hoped the alert system arrangement would be finalized within a week, and that Iraqi Kurds would cooperate.

"We have the situation under control," he said. "There is no need for movement of troops across the border."

Turkey, which has a large Kurdish population, is worried that Iraqi Kurds might declare independence and embolden separatists in Turkey.

Turkey is particularly sensitive about its porous border with Iraq. The nation has spent decades trying to fend off Kurdish guerrillas who used Iraqi soil as a base for launching operations in an effort to carve out a homeland in Turkey's southeast region.

After Turkey arrested the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party several years ago, attacks essentially ended.

A desire to keep the peace — along with a 95 percent public opinion rate against war — was the impetus behind the Turkish parliament's decision last month to refuse to allow coalition troops to operate from Turkey's air bases. However, Turkey did allow overflight rights for coalition combat aircraft.

Powell said there was no reason for Turkey to send its troops into the region, and that the early warning system would provide for immediate consultation between Turkish and U.S. officials in the event of tension. At the end of the 1990-91 Gulf War, Kurdish refugees flooded into Turkey form Iraq.

After meeting with Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials over a six-hour period Wednesday, Powell added that U.S.-Turkey ties remain strong and have endured for 50 years.

"Turkey is an important member of the coalition against Saddam Hussein," he said.

In the meantime, Congress is working on a $1 billion aid package, included in the war supplemental budget, in order to help Turkey deal with longtime economic woes — many the result of the first Gulf War.

That sum is substantially less than the $6 billion promised to Turkey when it was still considering whether to let U.S. troops on Turkish soil.

Powell said Wednesday outside the Turkish foreign ministry that the U.S. military "worked around" Turkey's refusal to permit use of its territory. More than 1,000 U.S. troops parachuted into northern Iraq last week, accompanied by tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles.

The Senate is debating Wednesday the nearly $80 billion war supplemental budget that includes funds for Turkey. The House will vote on a measure later this week.

The aid for Turkey faced sharp scrutiny in Congress Tuesday as lawmakers reviewed the president's request for additional war funding. The House and Senate appropriation panels passed a larger version of the president's $74.7 billion request, but not without debate over whether or not Turkey should get the $1 billion.

Rep. Randy Cunningham, R-Calif., said he thought the money should be redirected to homeland security.

Turkey has "cost American and allied blood and time and money," Cunningham said.

But opponents on the panel, who defeated the amendment, said that alienating Turkey right now is inappropriate.

Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic was assassinated last month.

From Belgrade, Powell was going to Brussels, Belgium, to meet with European Union officials. They are expected to tell him that the United Nations must play the central role in rebuilding postwar Iraq.

Powell also planned to meet his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, in Brussels.

Fox News' Teri Schultz and The Associated Press contributed to this report.