Obama Discusses Armenia With Turkish Officials


2009-02-17 12:25:00

ArmInfo. U.S. President Barack Obama called Turkish President
Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and had two "warm
and productive" conversations, the White House said late on Monday,
Turkish media reported.

According to the statements issued by the White House, Gul’s office
and Erdogan’s office Obama and Turkish officials discussed Middle East,
including Iraq and Iran, Afghanistan and Armenia.

"The president emphasized the importance of the United States alliance
with Turkey and said he looks forward to working with both President
Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan on a broad agenda of mutual strategic
interest," the White House said adding, Obama emphasized his desire
to strengthen U.S.-Turkish relations and to work together effectively
in NATO.

Gul’s office said prior to the White House’s statement Obama had
praised Turkey’s leadership in the regional issues. The two leaders
also "re-affirmed the will to work together, reviewing regional as
well as international issues," Gul’s office added.

Gul told the US president that a legislation that would recognize
the Armenian claims regarding the 1915 incidents should not be put
before the Congress.

The issue of 1915 incidents was high on the agenda of Obama-Erdogan
discussion. The Obama administration is seen as the most pro-Armenian
administration in Washington. Obama, Biden and Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton pledged to recognize Armenian claims on 1915 incidents,
which is a major concern in Turkey.

Erdogan underlined the importance of the strategic
cooperation. "Turkey’s stance on policies regarding the Middle East
and Armenia is clear. America’s fair and impartial approach (to these
issues) is important in order to prevent any damage to the bilateral
relations," Erdogan was quoted as telling to Obama.

The US President welcomed the recent restored dialogue between Turkey
and Armenia, signaling under the existing circumstances he would
refrain from taking any step that would harm these efforts.

Turkey and Armenia had restored dialogue, an important step to
normalize the relations that would eventually result in the opening
of the border between two neighboring countries. Turkey closed its
border and cut its diplomatic relations with Armenia in a protest to
Armenian occupation of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory.

"I would like to say that your leadership is vital in the Middle East
peace process and America always understands Turkey’s sensitivities,"
Erdogan’s office quoted Obama as telling the Turkish prime minister.

The statement said Obama expressed willingness to work with Turkey
in many issues such as maintaining peace in the Middle East, ending
PKK terrorism and relations with Armenia.

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