"Both sides are working hard" on a cooperative relationship between the US and Turkey on war with neighboring Iraq, American Ambassador to Ankara Robert Pearson said. But he said, "Time is a critica issue for us." The sticking point in discussions: Turkey's demand for more than $30 billion in aid, with still more open to later negotiation. That aid is widely considered crucial to the Turkish economy. Meanwhile, there were growing indications that the US might abandon plans to deploy thousands of troops on Turkish soil to open a northern front if Iraq is attacked.
In other war-related developments:
• Iraq's foreign minister refused to say how the Baghdad government would respond if ordered by the UN to destroy missiles that have been found by weapons inspectors to have a greater-than-permitted range. He called the question "hypothetical," although a spokesman for the inspectors said 380 illegally imported rocket engines for the missiles have been identified and tagged.
• Over Saudi objections, the Arab League scheduled an emergency summit on the Iraqi crisis for March 4-5 in Qatar. A senior Saudi official said the 56-nation group's time would be better spent "continuing to encourage Iraq to show more cooperation with UN inspectors."
• Despite its uncertain prospects for passage, US and British diplomats are expected to propose a "relatively simple, not very lengthy" UN resolution by next week at the latest that would authorize the use of force against Iraq.
The confrontation between North Korea and the US over the former's nuclear intentions is likelier to lead to a "catastrophic explosion" the longer it continues, an official newspaper in Pyong-yang said. The assertion followed by one day North Korea's threat to withdraw from the 1953 armistice that ended fighting on the peninsula. The foreign ministry also called "strange" the US position that bilateral talks on the nuclear issue, as demanded by the North, would be "a reward." The Bush administration has dismissed such assertions as "strident rhetoric" that only serves to "isolate and move North Korea backward."
In one of their heaviest raids on the Gaza Strip to date, Israeli forces attacked militant strongholds, killing at least 11 Palestinians and destroying four workshops believed to house weaponsmaking equipment. The assault penetrated deep into a neighborhood of Gaza City, the home of Hamas chief Ahmed Yassin, "a place they thought we would not be able to get to," a commander told the Haaretz newspaper. In retaliation, Palestinians fired four rockets into southern Israel, seriously wounding one person.