SLUG: 2-288338 Afghan / Turkey (L-O)
TITLE=AFGHAN / TURKEY (L-O)
INTRO: Afghan interim leader, Hamid Karzai arrived in Ankara Thursday on a
two day official visit. As Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara talks between
the Afghan leader and his Turkish hosts focused on Turkey's decision last
week to take command of the international peace keeping force in Afghanistan.
TEXT: Following talks with Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, Afghan
interim leader Hamid Karzai stressed his government's satisfaction over
Turkey's decision to take command of the international peace keeping force
from Britain in the coming weeks.
Turkish officials say the handover will likely be completed in June.
Some one-thousand Turkish troops are to be deployed in Kabul in addition to the 260 Turkish troops already in place.
Turkey's military presence has been encouraged by the Bush administration
which sees Turkey as a key ally in its ongoing campaign against global
Speaking at a joint news conference both leaders recalled that ties between
Turkey and Afghanistan went as far back as the early 20th century. Turkish
troops helped form and train the Afghan army at that time. Mr. Karzai noted today, Turkish troops were doing the same once again.
Mr. Ecevit said his government considered it what he termed a duty to help
the Afghan nation to rebuild its shattered economy and infrastructure. He
said steps had already been taken for Turkey to
help build schools and hospitals in Afghanistan as well as to train
personnel in diplomacy, health and education.
The two leaders also said they had discussed cooperation to combat
illegal drug trafficking in Afghanistan. Mr. Ecevit said Turkey had extensive
experience in this regard. Turkey is among the main transit routes for
Afghan produced heroin sold in European markets. Turkish police have in
recent months seized large quantities of heroin in a series of operations
jointly conducted with U-S drug enforcement agents.
During his stay, Mr. Karzai is also expected to meet with Turkish president,
Ahmet Necdet Sezer. (signed)
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