Letter: Monitoring a sensitive border

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Sir: Hugh Pope draws attention ('Ankara moves to throttle media's access to Kurds', 13 September) to Turkey's valuable role in Operation Provide Comfort and gives credit to the Turkish government for easing border restrictions so that aid can reach Kurds in northern Iraq with the necessary speed. The position of the Kurds in northern Iraq would have been untenable since 1991 without this aid.

However, he quite wrongly interprets the regulations governing the delivery of that aid as an attempt by Turkey to ban foreigners from visiting northern Iraq. He then compounds his error by claiming that the Turkish authorities denied Lord Avebury entry into northern Iraq when he visited the region in August.

While tensions have eased and the humanitarian situation improved, northern Iraq remains a politically sensitive area. Therefore, it is sensible to monitor what and who crosses the border from Turkey to Iraq. An advance notification system allows the provisions of UN Security Council resolution 688 to be implemented with greater effectiveness than would otherwise be the case, while presenting no obstacle to any legitimate foreign visitors to northern Iraq via Turkey. In August Lord Avebury, having provided the necessary information, was able to pass through Turkey on his way to northern Iraq.

Yours faithfully,


Turkish Embassy

London, SW1

16 September