ANKARA: U.S. Hopes Turkey’S Gul To Accept Armenian President’s Invit


July 14 2008

The Washington administration hopes Turkish President Abdullah Gul to
accept the invitation of his Armenian counterpart to watch a football
game in Yerevan in September, officials told Hurriyet daily.

Officials said if Gul accepts the invitation and visits Yerevan to
watch the football game between the Turkish and Armenian national
teams, then this would a "great opening," Hurriyet reported on Monday.

"We want those two neighboring countries to speak to each other, to
get closer, and to normalize relations between Ankara and Yerevan. We
hope President Abdullah Gul accepts the invitation and visits Yerevan
to watch the game," an official was quoted as saying.

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian invited in early July Turkish
President Abdullah Gul to watch the football match in Yerevan between
the two countries on Sept. 6 for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers to
mark "a new start in relations". Gul is yet to declare his official
decision on the invitation as the evaluation of the Turkish foreign
ministry continues.

Turkey is among the first countries that recognized Armenia when it
declared its independency. However there is no diplomatic relations
between two countries, as Armenia presses the international community
to admit the so-called "genocide" claims instead of accepting Turkey’s
call to investigate the allegations, and its invasion of 20 percent
of Azerbaijani territory despite the U.N. Security Council resolutions
on the issue.

However, a warm exchange of letters between Sarksyan and Gul in late
April raised optimism for a fresh initiative to normalize relations,
while Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan then expressed his
hope that Sarksyan’s election victory will "lead to a new period
in relations".