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Cohen Meets With Turkish Leaders

April 17, 1998

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) _ Defense Secretary William Cohen spoke with Turkish leaders today about improving relations with NATO ally Greece.

Turkey and neighboring Greece have longstanding differences over control of the Aegean’s airspace, waters, mineral rights and the divided island of Cyprus. Their disagreements have hampered NATO operations in the region.

Cohen met with Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, Defense Minister Ismet Sezgin and Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Cevik Bir.

``I hope that we can continue to build upon (our) relationship, not only in terms of military partnership but also economic development,″ Cohen told Sezgin.

Cohen, who is on the first day of a Middle East tour, thanked Turkey for its support to a U.S.-led air mission protecting Iraqi Kurds from a southern Turkish airbase.

On Saturday, Cohen will pay a brief visit to southern Incirlik air base to meet with the U.S. troops.

A U.S.-led allied air force flies daily patrols over northern Iraq to enforce a no-fly zone to protect the Iraqi Kurds above the 36th parallel since the end of 1991 Gulf War.

Cohen’s six-day tour of the region includes stops in Jordan, Egypt and Israel.

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