Turkish army chief says sending troops to Afghanistan is state policy

 ANKARA, March 24 (Xinhua) — Turkish Chief of General Staff Yasar Buyukanit said Monday that sending Turkish troops to Afghanistan was not the policy of Turkish Armed Forces, but a state policy, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

    Buyukanit made the remarks at a reception held on the occasion of Pakistan’s National Day in Ankara, capital of Turkey.

    Upon a question on the dispatch of Turkish troops to Afghanistan, Buyukanit was quoted as saying that “this is not the policy of Turkish Armed Forces, this is a state policy. I will only say that”.

    Turkish government and military are at odds over sending more combat troops to Afghanistan, local newspaper Turkish Daily News reported last Thursday.

    Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said the government might consider sending more combat troops to Afghanistan.” Turkey has its own terrorism problem but on the other hand it has responsibilities of being a NATO member when fighting against terrorism,” Babacan said during a joint press conference with the visiting Afghan FM Rengin Spanta Wednesday.

    “The general tendency is to support Afghanistan in all ways, including military ones,” he added.

    Spanta, for his part, told reporters that he had asked for Turkey’s support in fighting against Afghanistan’s terrorism problem. “Their response was positive.”

    However, Buyukanit had said earlier that the military would not dispatch even a single troop to the southern region of Afghanistan to fight against the Taliban.

    “Our troops in Kabul are under the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force), which has no mission to fight against terrorism. Our troops are not there for this purpose,” said Buyukanit.

    NATO and the United States are pressuring allies to do more for the 42,000-strong mission in Afghanistan. NATO will discuss the Afghanistan mission in the upcoming NATO summit that will take place in April in Bucharest, Romania.

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