Turkey is sending military observers to Kirkuk with U.S. approval, according to the Associated Press. This follows an Iraqi Kurdish move into the oil-rich city in northern Iraq. Turkey has repeatedly said that it will not accept Iraqi Kurdish control of Kirkuk.
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said he spoke with Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell today and that Powell offered to let Turkey send the observers.
Earlier BBC reported US-backed Kurdish forces have moved into the center of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Local people are celebrating.
The AP reports oil facilities are completely intact around town and are even continuing to pump oil.
Near Kalaka, thousands of Kurds swarmed and looted abandoned Iraqi bunkers and barracks in a free-for-all that the Kurdish militia made no attempt to halt.
Meanwhile the BBC reports the controversy over Iraq’s future continued as the Bush administration yesterday gave differing accounts of a key meeting of exiles within the country.
Early on Wednesday, Vice President Dick Cheney announced the US will organize a conference of Iraqi exiles, and people from inside Iraq, to discuss the formation of an Iraqi interim authority which would gradually take over the running of the country.
He said the meeting would take place on Saturday in Nasiriya in southern Iraq.
But, within a few hours, others in the US government attempted to downgrade the status of the Iraqi opposition meeting.
In an unusual move, White House press spokesman Ari Fleischer issued a correction to Cheney’s statement, saying the meeting would take place sometime after Saturday.
And State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said that the venue of the meeting had not yet been decided
Meanwhile, a group of former senior U.S. officials endorsed a call yesterday for the Bush administration to share influence over postwar Iraq with other countries and a broad spectrum of Iraqis.
The officials include: former secretaries of state Lawrence Eagleburger and Alexander Haig Jr., former defense secretary William Perry, former CIA director James Woolsey former House speaker Newt Gingrich, and former senators Bob Kerrey (a Nebraska Democrat) and Fred Thompson (a Tennessee Republican.) The statement said: “Only if the United States invests in helping Iraqis build a new Iraq will it have the moral standing and political authority to promote its other objectives in the region.”
- Salam Al-Rawi, Iraqi American businessman who owns restaurants in New York.
- Dilip Hiro, journalist and author of 24 books including “Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm.”