U.S Bypasses Turkey For Withdrawal Of Heavy Weapons And Troops From Iraq

The United States does not intend to pull out heavy equipment and weapons from Iraq through Turkish territory, though the U.S. military has been seeking Turkish permission for the transportation of some noncombat equipment, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen said Saturday.

  Though we certainly rely on Turkey's infrastructure to move some equipment in and out of our area of operations, we do not transport weapons through Turkey, nor do we intend to in the future, Mullen said in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

  Mullen, who made a brief visit to Ankara to meet Turkey's new Chief of General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner, said the United States has moved 38,000 pieces of rolling stock and over two million other pieces of equipment out of Iraq safely. He added "certainly none of the military equipment, and none of the people have come through Turkey."

  Meanwhile, Mullen said the current agreement between the United States and Iraq was to withdraw all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

  "We have withdrawn almost 100,000 troops under the current agreement, we would do the same over the next 15 or 16 months. No decisions have been made in terms of how to do that," he noted.

 On Friday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal had said the Turkish government, in principle, looked favorably on the passage of U.S. weaponless equipment and technical materials.
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