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Turkey denies moving troops into Iraq

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ANKARA, Turkey (CNN) -- Turkish military and government officials denied Saturday sending a large force of Turkish troops into northern Iraq.

In Washington, Turkish ambassador Farouk Logoglu told CNN: "No, Turkey is not moving troops into Iraq," although he conceded that Turkey has had troops in northern Iraq for some time.

And he said discussions were continuing between Turkey and the United States over Turkey's desire to send more soldiers into the area.

The Turks say they need troops in northern Iraq to "manage the humanitarian situation" -- partly by keeping Kurdish refugees from crossing into Turkey.

In Qatar, General Tommy Franks, commander of coalition forces in the region, said there were "light" formations of Turkish troops in northern Iraq. "We see them move in and out of Turkey."

He said political talks were continuing to decide how much of that was "acceptable."

Late Friday, CNN Turk military correspondent Kemal Yurteri reported that more than 1,000 Turkish troops were beginning to cross the border into Iraq. But Turkish military officials in Ankara denied that.

The U.S. has been trying to persuade Turkey to keep its soldiers out of the Kurdish-controlled area, for fear of clashes between Turkish and Kurdish troops.

A U.S. official told CNN the question of "where, how many and when" Turkish troops may cross into Iraq was still under negotiation and "it is not reconciled."

CNN Correspondent Jane Arraf, in northern Iraq, reported that about 3,000 Turkish troops already had been in northern Iraq, with more expected to come. But Turkish officials say these are not combat troops, they will not fire a shot and are there to form a "buffer."

On Friday, Turkey agreed to open two air corridors over its territory for U.S. planes to use in air attacks on Iraq, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said. Negotiations over that issue had been tied up over troop movements.

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