St. Petersburg Times
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War drives Powell to visit allies

©Associated Press
April 1, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Colin Powell will travel to Turkey and Belgium for talks on the war with Iraq and postwar reconstruction of that country.

Powell said Monday that it was the first of a number of trips he intends to take "about our hopes for Iraq in the future."

He told reporters he would tell Turkish leaders "it is unnecessary for them to consider any incursions in the region."

Powell said he was prepared to hear "their point of view and make sure we have a common understanding."

Powell intends to take up with Turkish leaders their concern about any potential for terror attacks from Iraq and the restraints the Bush administration has placed on Turkish military incursions inside northern Iraq, spokesman Richard Boucher said in announcing the sudden trip.

In Brussels, where Powell will meet with NATO allies and members of the European Union on Thursday, the focus will be on postwar reconstruction in Iraq.

France and Germany opposed the war, preferring extended U.N. searches for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and a division also exists over postwar planning. France and Russia want a dominant role for the United Nations in a post-Saddam Hussein transition.

The composition of a peacekeeping force is among items on Powell's agenda for the trip that Boucher said Powell decided to take as late as Sunday.

Opposition to the war is strong in Turkey, which has a mostly secular Muslim majority, as it is in many Muslim and non-Muslim countries around the world.

Powell wants to work with Turkish officials to plan a representative government in Baghdad after the removal of Hussein's administration, Boucher said.

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