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98218. Iraqi Crisis Easing, Not Over

By Linda D. Kozaryn

American Forces Press Service

	INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The crisis with Iraq has eased, 

but it is not over, U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told 

U.S. service members here April 18. 

	It remains "an open question" whether Saddam Hussein will 

fully comply with the agreement he signed with U.N. Secretary 

General Kofi Annan, Cohen said. Only full compliance with U.N. 

Security Council resolutions will lift sanctions imposed by the 

international community.

	"It's not enough to say Saddam has opened his presidential 

palaces and the inspectors have found nothing, so the sanctions 

should be removed," Cohen said. "He has an obligation to show 

proof positive of where, when, how and under what circumstances 

the [chemical and biological] materials were destroyed. Until he 

does that, Saddam Hussein should expect no relief."

	The defense secretary addressed American active duty and 

reserve component members here during the second stop of five-day 

trip to Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Greece, April 17 to 21. 

	In Ankara, April 17, Cohen hailed Turkey as a strong 

strategic partner in promoting stability in the Middle East. He 

said the United States strongly supports Turkey's proposal for a 

multinational Balkan peace force, which is "one more sign of the 

important role Turkey plays as a force for stability."

	Cohen urged Turkey and Greece to resolve their longstanding 

dispute over Cyprus. Responding to press queries about selling 

arms to the two nations, Cohen said Turkey and Greece are both 

NATO allies. "We obviously support individual members modernizing 

their systems to make sure they not only are capable of defending 

their own security interests, but can carry out their Article V, 

collective security obligations [as well]." 

	Requests for U.S. assistance are evaluated on a case-by-case 

basis, Cohen noted. "It is our hope and expectation that the 

tensions that currently exist between Turkey and Greece will be 

will be negotiated and settled in a way that is responsible as 

members of the NATO alliance."

	Cohen visited coalition forces supporting Operation Northern 

Watch. About 1,300 U.S., 200 British and 100 Turkish troops 

deployed at this Turkish facility near Adana enforce the northern 

"no-fly" zone in Iraq and monitor Iraqi compliance with U.N. 

security resolutions. 

	Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. 

Joseph Ralston, accompanying Cohen during the first part of the 

trip, said the vital enforcement and surveillance operation helps 

cement U.S. military relations with Turkey. 

	"Turkey is an absolutely critical ally," Ralston said. "It 

is in a unique geographical position. It's in the long-term 

interests of both of our nations that we continue to have a very 

strong military-to-military, as well as strategic, relationship."

	The U.N.-Iraq agreement which eased the recent crisis "would 

not have been possible without you," Cohen told about 300 service 

members assembled at the base community club. "Without the 

strength of our military, the commitment, dedication and 

sacrifice every one of you make day in and day out, no such 

agreement would have been possible."

	When Annan returned from Iraq, Cohen recalled, the U.N. 

negotiator told President Clinton and other top U.S. officials, 

"not only the threat of force, but the reality of force," helped 

ensure his success. 

	The allied forces protect vital national security interests 

by maintaining stability in the Middle East, Cohen said. "As a 

result of the contribution you make, we're able to strike these 

agreements which [not only] preserve the peace, but also send a 

very strong signal: In the absence of compliance, we are there at 

the ready, to take whatever action might be necessary."

	Hailing the troops for their patriotism, Cohen said: "I know 

it's hard to be out on the front lines, away from your families. 

I want you to know the American people truly appreciate what you 

are doing on behalf of your country."