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AFGHANISTAN - Feb. 26 - UK May Have To Lead ISAF Beyond April.

UK officials say British troops will be forced to remain in charge of the security force beyond the end-April deadline if a deal is not reached to hand over to Ankara within two weeks. (This comes after British PM Tony Blair discussed the issue with Turkish PM Bulent E?evit by telephone on Feb. 25. E?evit said Ankara still wanted to lead the force but, despite commanding the second largest standing army in NATO, it needed external funding. Ankara wants to take over but is seeking help from foreign governments, mainly the US, with the estimated $60m a year cost of increasing its 260-strong troop presence by 1,000. Ankara also wants assurances on troop contributions by other countries to the force and when its mission would end. E?evit made the same point on Feb. 26 to Spanish Defence Minister Federico Trillo). British armed forces chiefs are keen to resolve the uncertainty, with Bernard Jenkin, shadow defence secretary, saying failure to reach agreement would mean "we would be left holding the baby. There is little sign of an exit strategy. That is one of the reasons why Turkey may be so reluctant". The UK hopes the US might contribute troops to the force if its UN mandate is extended and expanded after June.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 2, 2002
Previous Article:AFGHANISTAN - Feb. 24 - Special Envoy Warns On 'Warlordism'.
Next Article:AFGHANISTAN - Feb. 27 - Zahir Shah To Return On March 21.

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