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More assurances sought from Turkey

The UK is seeking more assurances from Turkey on the resettlement of Kurdish people before providing assistance for the construction of the Ilisu dam on the Tigris river.

The UK government has toughened its stand after a report by the all-party Trade and Industry Select Committee expressed concerns over government support for the Ilisu dam project which will involve relocating 20-30,000 Turkish Kurds within the reservoir area.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), which is reported to be facing fierce lobbying from environmentalists, human rights groups and some of Turkey’s neighbours (Syria and Iraq), told a parliamentary committee that some issues need to be resolved before financial assistance can be considered.

Last year, UK contractor Balfour Beatty asked the government to underwrite its bid for the £200M (US$300M) project on the Tigris river. The DTI told the parliamentary committee that the biggest stumbling block was how Turkey deals with the displaced Kurds, and the government needs to be assured that all areas of concern are addressed satisfactorily.