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Powell seeks to mend Europe links

Powell is expected to discuss repairing European relations.
Powell is expected to discuss repairing European relations.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to visit Turkey this week in a bid to mend strained relations between the two countries.

Powell, who leaves Washington Tuesday, is also expected to visit Brussels for talks on easing the tension between the U.S. and some European countries caused by the war in Iraq.

He will meet senior Turkish officials "to discuss continued cooperation on Iraq," a State Department official said. He will seek to repair relations with the country's government, which were strained when parliament voted against allowing U.S. troops to launch an invasion of Iraq from Turkish soil.

Powell's trip to Ankara comes as the U.S. and Turkey are working to coordinate Turkish troop deployment to northern Iraq.

Turkey, which opposes moves for Kurdish independence in Turkey and in northern Iraq, has said it fears thousands of Kurdish refugees will try to enter southern Turkey to escape the war.

The U.S. has insisted that no influx has materialized and having Turkish troops in the area would only worsen tensions between the Kurds who control northern Iraq and the Turkish government.

In Brussels Thursday, Powell is due to meet European Union and NATO members where he is expected to discuss repairing European relations and the role the European community could play in rebuilding Iraq.

The State Department official said Powell will address the North Atlantic Council, the governing body of NATO, where he will deal with issues related to "stability and reconstruction" in Iraq after the military operations are over.

As the trip was arranged very recently, the official said "Powell understands that all of the ministers won't be there, but the objective is to consult with the Europeans on the broad range of post-conflict issues."

When asked during a news conference if NATO would play any role in post-war Iraq, Powell said that was not the purpose of his trip this week.

"But I know that NATO has been expressing interest in out-of-area activities and how they can play a more effective role in the 21st century. And so I'd be interested in any ideas they have," he said.

"But, no, ... I'm not going for the purpose of negotiating any NATO role in the new phase of Iraq's life after the liberation of its people."

Powell is expected to return to Washington Thursday.

-- From CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott

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