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New Turkish leader opposes Iraq war

Nov. 7, 2002 at 8:20 AM   |   Comments

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Recep Tayyip Erdogan, head of Turkey's Islamic Justice and Development Party that scored a sweeping victory in recent parliamentary elections, said Thursday he would refuse his country's participation in any U.S. military action against Iraq.

Speaking in an interview with Lebanon's al-Mustaqbal newspaper, Erdogan said Turkey has suffered because of sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Iraq because of its 1990 invasion of Kuwait and "will not accept to bear more losses."

He said he hoped that Washington would drop its military plans against Iraq and warned that if such plans were carried out, they would lead to "dangerous problems" in the region.

He, however, noted that the U.S. officials "haven't taken yet a final decision in this (Iraq) difficult issue."

Erdogan said the Middle East already suffers enough problems because of the Palestinian problem. He said Turkey will continue "to support the right of the Palestinian people for establishing an independent state on Palestinian soil."

On Turkey's relations with the European Union, Erdogan said the European countries were convinced that his Justice and Development Party was "not an Islamic party and they will see that we are the only ones who will fulfill European demands concerning democratic reforms with all honesty."

Erdogan was preparing for a tour of several European countries for pushing negotiations to accept Turkey's candidacy to the European Union.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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