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Turkey rejects NATO Afghanistan request

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Turkey is unwilling to extend its operations in Afghanistan despite a NATO request to do so.

Turkey's Zaman newspaper reported Oct. 29 that the Turkish government has rebuffed a NATO request to deploy its forces outside the capital Kabul. The rebuff comes despite a personal request by NATO's supreme allied commander in Europe, U.S. Gen. James Jones, that Turkish forces in Afghanistan lift their self-imposed restrictions in the war-torn nation.

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The Turkish chief of staff and the Turkish Foreign Ministry are opposed to Jones' request.

Hikmet Cetin, Turkey's former NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan for nearly three years, has indirectly supported the NATO request.

During an interview with Zaman Cetin said restrictions on Turkish troops in Afghanistan should be reduced to a minimum even as he observed that no other nation could force Turkey to alter its polices.

"The Afghan mission is NATO's most significant operation. I repeated that restrictions were completely unnecessary even when I was representing NATO there. Gen. Jones is right in demanding more troops. When I was in Afghanistan, I was saying that restrictions were unnecessary and strict policies were causing difficulties. Restrictions should be minimized," Cetin said.

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Turkey is the United States' sole NATO Muslim ally. Ankara has deployed troops to Afghanistan to support U.S.-led anti-terrorist operations there.

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