Turkey considers Iraq as alternative trade route

AP News
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Posted: Nov 29, 2011 4:03 AM
Turkey considers Iraq as alternative trade route

Turkey is considering using Iraq as a transit route for trade with the Middle East "if the situation with Syria worsens," the country's transport minister said Tuesday.

Binali Yildirim told the state-run Anadolu Agency that Turkey would increase the number of border gates with Iraq in such an event.

Turkey and Syria share a 520-miles (850-kilometer) border and Syria is currently a main transit route for Middle East trade.

A week ago, Syrian soldiers opened fire on at least two buses carrying Turkish citizens, wounding two of them and forcing Turkey to renew a travel warning to the country.

Syria's bloody crackdown on protesters has strained relations with Turkey, which has been outspoken in its criticism of President Bashar Assad. They deteriorated further following a spate of attacks on Turkey's diplomatic missions.

Turkey has backed a series of Arab League sanctions on Syria and is expected to announce its own sanctions soon. It is already enforcing an arms embargo on Syria.

Yildirim said Ankara was working on measures that would not harm the Syrian people.

"Restrictions to be applied on Syria will never cause harm to the people of Syria," Yildirim was quoted as saying.

Yildirim also told Anadolu plans were under way for the use of so-called Ro-Ro _ roll on-roll off _ ships between Turkey and Egypt, although he added the route was not an alternative to transport through Syria.