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Turkey Wants Assurances before Taking Command of Peacekeepers - 2002-03-01


Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit says Turkey needs assurances on the scope and future mandate of the Afghanistan peacekeeping force before it decides whether to assume command of the force.

Mr. Ecevit told a meeting of his Democratic Left Party that if his country is to undertake this task, Turkey has some "demands and conditions."

The Turkish leader said he summarized his concerns to British Prime Minister Tony Blair who, he said, found them "reasonable."

Mr. Ecevit says he wants assurances on the financing, composition and scope of authority of the force.

He says he also needs to know which countries would continue to participate, whether NATO should share the responsibility and how the logistical support for the force would be handled.

Turkey, NATO's only predominantly Muslim member, is seen as the prime candidate to take over command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan after Britain's three month term ends in April.

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