ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. officials reportedly approached the government of Turkey to develop plans for a troop withdrawal through the north of Iraq, Turkish media report.
Washington and U.S. military strategists have considered a variety of timelines for withdrawing combat forces from Iraq, with most focused on a 16-month timetable.
Today's Zaman reports Thursday that Ankara held talks with U.S. officials on the possibility of withdrawing American forces from Iraq through the north and into southwest Turkey.
The report says the ruling Justice and Development Party would not object to such measures, though the issue would require approval from the Turkish Parliament.
Turkish officials who spoke to the news agency on condition of anonymity said the talks were in the very early stages, but said whatever action the U.S. military takes in preparing to leave it Iraq, it should consider a strategy that is as gradual as possible.
Kursat Atilgan, a lawmaker with the Nationalist Movement Party and a retired general, said a northern redeployment would provide a buffer for American forces, given friendly relations with the regional government in Iraqi Kurdistan.
"Hence, they (U.S. forces) have to withdraw from Iraq's north, because, except for the autonomous Kurdish administration in Iraq, the United States has many foes in the country," he said.