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Cheney's Turkish trip may enrich relations

March 23, 2008 at 1:19 PM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, March 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's scheduled visit to Turkey this week is intended to burnish relations between the two countries.

Turkish political commentator Mehmet Ali Birand said Cheney's visit comes as U.S.-Turkish negotiations are positive and the presence of the vice president in Ankara can only improve diplomacy between the two sides, the Voice of America reported Sunday.

"Our relations are full of ups and downs and the public opinion changes its minds very quickly. When Washington was against Turkey moving into northern Iraq they were furious, but once they got the green light to move there then everything has changed. Now I think we are passing a golden period. From that angle, (the) vice president is very important," Birand said.

Yet Birand warned the Voice of America that any request from Cheney for Turkey to send troops into Afghanistan would likely not be invoke a positive reaction.

"Turkey is reluctant to send more troops because the view in Ankara is, 'why are we sending and not NATO other allies are not sending.' What Ankara wants (is) 'let's send altogether troops, don't put all the weight on our shoulders,'" Birand said.

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