Turkey will not send more troops to Afghanistan: premier
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday Turkey would not send extra troops to Afghanistan, as he prepared to leave for a visit to the United States which has appealed to allies for reinforcements.world Updated: Dec 06, 2009 18:05 IST
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday Turkey would not send extra troops to Afghanistan, as he prepared to leave for a visit to the United States which has appealed to allies for reinforcements.
"For the moment, we have done what we had to do over there (Afghanistan), our contingent of soldiers is at a useful number," Erdogan said at Istanbul's Ataturk airport in response to journalists' questions about the US request to NATO allies for more troops to fight the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
"If you ask what we can do beyond that... we can provide training there for the Afghan security forces, which so far we've been doing in our country," said Erdogan, adding that reconstruction and sanitary aid are other areas in which the Turks might take part.
Erodogan will meet on Monday with US President Barack Obama who on Tuesday announced the deployment of 30,000 more US soldiers to Afghanistan, which has been followed by allies pledging some 7,000 extra troops.
Though a member of the Western military alliance, Turkey has refused to send its troops on combat missions. The 1,700 Turkish troops in Afghanistan are involved in patrolling the capital Kabul.
Turkey, a majority Muslim country, also refused to fight Islamist insurgents in order not to go against fellow Muslim religious in a country with which Turkey has had close historic ties.
Besides Afghanistan, Erdogan said he will discuss with Obama the situation in other hot spots such as Iraq, Pakistan and the Middle East. Other issues on the agenda are the fight against terrorism, the global financial crisis and energy security, he added.
On Tuesday, Erdogan will head for a three-day visit to Mexico where he will hold talks on Wednesday with Mexican President Felipe Calderon.