Top U.S. military commander in Turkey on eve of Iraqi withdrawal .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - Gen. David Petraeus, the head of United States Central Command, arrived Tuesday in Ankara to meet Turkish officials on the eve of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The country’s ambassador to Turkey, however, said the visit is not related to the Iraqi pullout. (UPDATED)

Petraeus, who oversees the American war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, arrived in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Tuesday, the deadline for U.S. combat troops to withdraw from Iraqi cities.

Petraeus will hold talks with Turkish officials for two days, the state-run Anatolian Agency said.

Turkey has said it could possibly agree to the use of Turkish soil for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from neighboring Iraq. Turkey, a NATO member, is also a key U.S. ally in Afghanistan.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey, however, said Petraeus's visit was not related with the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, the Anatolian Agency reported.

Jeffrey told at a meeting in the Aegean province of Izmir that no concrete plans were yet in place for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, and added there have been no talks between the United States and Turkey regarding this.

He said Petraeus's area of command covered the Middle East and Central Asia, which Turkey showed close interest in. Jeffrey said the U.S. worked together with Turkey against the terrorist organization PKK, and in Afghanistan, adding that his visit was mainly concerning these topics.

U.S. combat troops prepared to leave the last of Iraq's cities on Tuesday, a move hailed by local authorities as restoring sovereignty and applauded by the country even though they fear it may leave them more vulnerable.

By midnight on Tuesday, all U.S. combat units must have withdrawn from Iraq's urban centers and redeployed to bases outside, according to a bilateral security pact that also requires all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

The last U.S. combat troops left central Baghdad on Monday, withdrawing to two large bases near the capital's airport, and withdrawals from other cities were underway. Only those troops tasked with training and advising Iraqi forces will stay behind.

U.S. relations with Turkey soured in 2003 when Washington’s plans to send the 4th Infantry Division to invade Iraq from the north as other troops moved in from the south were thwarted when Turkish lawmakers voted against letting American soldiers move through the country.

In recent years relations have gradually warmed between the two fellow NATO members.