WASHINGTON – The United States hopes to begin moving troops and equipment into Turkey as early as this week, preparing for an expected second front in a possible war with Iraq, Pentagon oficials said Saturday.
They confirmed a tentative agreement on U.S. aid to Turkey, whose parliament could vote on the deal Tuesday. A Turkish official said the deal involved $5 billion in grants and $10 billion in loan guarantees from the United States.
Turkey, a NATO ally and Iraq’s northern neighbor, is pivotal for the Pentagon’s plans for a two-pronged invasion of Iraq if President Bush decides on war. Talks dragged on for weeks on the U.S. request to base tens of thousands of troops in Turkey, whose citizens overwhelmingly oppose military action in Iraq.
At least a half-dozen U.S. military ships are waiting off Turkey’s coast, part of a flotilla of more than three dozen vessels carrying equipment and supplies for the American ground troops.