Index

DATE=5/17/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=TURKEY / IRAN (L ONLY) NUMBER=2-262473 BYLINE=AMBERIN ZAMAN DATELINE=ANKARA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit has accused Iran of failing to respond to evidence of Iranian involvement in the murders of Turkish pro- secular writers and academics. Amberin Zaman reports from Ankara. TEXT: Mr. Ecevit's remarks came after Turkish police reported they arrested four suspects in connection with the 1990 letter-bomb murder of Bahriye Ucok - a woman professor who was a staunch defender of secularism in Turkey. The arrests follow those of 15 other men who are accused of the murders of columnists Ugur Mumcu and Ahmet Taner Kislali who worked for the left-leaning daily newspaper Cumhuriyet. Mr. Mumcu was killed in 1993 when a bomb placed under his car exploded outside his Ankara home. Mr. Kislali was killed in the same way last year. Turkish officials say two of the prime suspects in the Mumcu killing confessed that two Iranian nationals had placed the bomb under the slain journalist's car. Turkey and Iran are long-time rivals for influence in the oil-rich former Soviet central-Asian republics and the southern Caucasus states. Analysts say Turkey's firmly pro-secular western-style democracy contrasts sharply with Iran's Islamic government Turkish officials have long accused Iran of seeking to export its Islamic revolution by arming and training extremist groups in Turkey. Mr. Ecevit repeated accusations Iran also is supporting separatist Kurdish guerrillas of Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party. Iran denies all the charges. But Mr. Ecevit said Turkey would, in his words - re-evaluate its ties with Iran on the basis of concrete evidence of the ongoing investigations. In a related development, Turkey's newly elected President Ahmet Necdet Sezer told reporters after his inauguration Tuesday that he will not be traveling to Iran on his first official trip abroad, as previously scheduled. (SIGNED) NEB/AZ/JWH/ENE/RAE 17-May-2000 11:15 AM EDT (17-May-2000 1515 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .