BRUSSELS, DEC. 9 -- Senior U.S. officials are engaged in an "ongoing discussion" with the Turkish government about new Turkish military contributions to the Persian Gulf military alliance but have not yet received a definitive reply, according to Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney.
The discussions were initiated more than a week ago in reponse to requests by senior U.S. military officials that additional Turkish military deployments along Turkey's southern border with Iraq be used to draw more of Iraq's military forces from the area in and around Kuwait, other U.S. officials said.
Several U.S. military officials also have urged that Turkey be asked to send some of its troops to join those of at least 11 other nations deployed in Saudi Arabia, providing an added demonstration of support from Turkey for the U.S.-led military effort.
Turkish Defense Minister Huznu Dogan declined in an interview here to say whether his government would accede to the U.S. request. He confirmed that the military's chief of staff, Gen. Necip Torumtay, had resigned last Monday, but said he did not know whether the general's decision was prompted by a split with Turkish President Turgut Ozal over the deployment of additional troops.
"We've been very pleased with the way the Turks have conducted themselves in the crisis. Ozal has been one of the leaders of the effort. They are bearing significant economic pain" as a result of having closed down a major oil pipeline from northern Iraq through Turkey, Cheney said.
U.S. officials said Turkey shifted additional forces to the northern Iraqi border shortly after the crisis began, forcing Iraq to deploy roughly 30,000 troops in the north instead of in southern Iraq or occupied Kuwait.
But a senior U.S. military planner involved in Operation Desert Shield said Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia, would like to use Turkish forces to draw more Iraqi troops to the north. U.S. officials said they do not expect Turkey to join in any military attack.
Dogan, reflecting how sensitive the issue has become, would not discuss whether Turkey would allow U.S. forces to use Turkish air bases for a military assault on Iraq -- regarded by U.S. military commanders as a crucial aspect of their strategy for swiftly defeating Iraqi forces if conflict occurs.
Dogan said he favors a quick resolution of the crisis because it is costing Turkey's economy "billions of dollars." He said halting Iraq's oil exports has forced his country to replace roughly 60 percent of its oil supply at prices substantially inflated by fears of a Persian Gulf war.