ANKARA: We Keep In Contact With Armenia From Time To Time, Babacan


Turkish Press
July 20 2008

ANKARA – Turkey`s Foreign Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU talks
Ali Babacan said Friday "Turkey keep in contact with Armenia from
time to time."

Ali Babacan and his Iranian counterpart Manuchehr Motaki held a
joint news conference following their tete-a-tete meeting in Ankara
on Friday.

Reminded about some news reports indicating direct talks between Turkey
and Armenia, Babacan said that "Turkey is a country that recognizes
Armenia. Within this framework, we keep in contact with Armenia from
time to time."

"I had a chance to meet the former Armenian foreign minister as well
as their new foreign minister in certain international meetings. From
time to time, Turkish diplomats meet their counterparts from Armenia,"
Babacan said.

"No doubt, this (diplomatic) traffic is important for the relations
between Turkey and Armenia. What is important is how to normalize
relations," Babacan said.

"There are problems. There are current problems and differences of
opinion on the incidents of 1915. We must handle all issues through
dialog," Babacan said.

Reminded about news reports that security advisers of NATO member
countries convened in Ankara, Babacan said that "it is true the
security advisers of NATO member countries meet from time to time. A
related meeting took place in Ankara on Thursday. The issues discussed
were international issues pertaining to NATO."

In reference to a question on tourism between Turkey and Iran, Babacan
said that "last year, around one million Iranians visited Turkey. The
number of Turks visiting Iran was less than one million. We discussed,
with Motaki, ways to promote tourism between our two respective


Asked about Iran`s relations with the United States, Motaki said that
"in the past few years, many Americans from different fields wanted
to visit Iran. We support this process between the peoples of our
two countries."

"U.S. businessmen would like to conduct business with Iran. A group
of U.S. businessmen already operate in Iran. However, I would not be
able to give names due to the sensitivity of the issue," Motaki said.

"We proposed direct flights between Iran and the U.S.. We may hold a
meeting on would be direct flights and the opening of an U.S. interest
office in Tehran," Motaki said.

In regard to a question on the closure case filed against Turkey`s
ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, Motaki stressed that
"Turkey is an important country in the region with an important role. I
believe the leaders of Turkey would be able to overcome all matters."

In reference to a question on Turkish-Iranian relations, Motaki said
that the two countries must work to promote relations in all areas.

"The private sectors of Turkey and Iran have a role to play in
developing commercial relations. It is important to develop relations
out of the economy as well," Motaki said.

"Let us also talk about the media. Iran and Turkey have very active
media establishments. We can help you organize meetings, symposiums
and seminars," Motaki also said.
From: Baghdasarian