Friday, March 24, 2006

US senators seek to win full Turkish support against Iran

The New Anatolian:
Visiting U.S. senators told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Iran's nuclear activities not only pose a threat for the U.S. but also for Turkey and the whole Middle East. READ MORE

The U.S. delegation, led by John Warner, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, also underlined the necessity to find diplomatic solutions to Tehran's nuclear program.

The delegation discussed the latest developments in the Middle East, especially Iran's nuclear program, the latest developments in Iraq and ways to curb the presence of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) during their meetings with Turkish officials in Ankara.

Warner said that Iran is continuing its nuclear enrichment program and that it's not in the interests of Turkey, regional countries or the international arena. He also expressed hope that a solution would be found to this problem through diplomatic moves by European Union countries, the United Nations and other institutions.

The U.S. senators also told Turkish officials behind closed doors that they share Turkey's concerns over the terrorist PKK, sources said.

"We know what terrorism means as we experienced the 9/11 attacks. We share your concerns and hesitations and take your warnings into consideration," one U.S. senator told Turkish parliamentarians, stressing that the presence of the terrorist PKK in northern Iraq should be eradicated.

According to the same sources, the U.S. senators underscored the importance of stability in Iraq and added that they would not permit a civil war in Iraq but try to ensure democracy.

Erdogan, US senators stress need for Iraqi unity govt

During the meeting between the U.S. senators and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, they underlined the necessity for the establishment of a united Iraqi government with the participation of all ethnic and religious groups.

"A civil war in Iraq is out of question at the moment," said U.S. senator John Warner following the U.S. delegation's meeting with Erdogan. However he also warned that if a civil war breaks out in Iraq one day, it will destabilize all the countries in the region, including Turkey.

In an effort to unite all Iraqis under a single umbrella to prevent a possible sectarian war, Warner said that the operation of the political process and formation of a united Iraqi government are important for Iraq, the U.S. and for other countries.

Praising Turkish efforts in encouraging the Sunnis to participate in the elections and the overall political process, Warner said that Turkey's support for Iraq, particularly at this period, is essential.

Warner also thanked Ankara for the support it extended to both Iraq and Afghanistan in their efforts to become free and democratic states.

The U.S. delegation chaired by Warner visited Afghanistan and Iraq before coming to Turkey and besides Erdogan, they also met Turkish Parliament's National Defense Committee, Foreign Affairs Commission and Turkish-U.S. Parliamentary Friendship Group during their contacts in Ankara.

Gray calls for Turkish-US dialogue to solve Mideast problems

Gordon Gray, a top diplomat at the U.S. State Department who's in charge of Middle Eastern Affairs, said on Wednesday that Turkey and the U.S. face the same problems and threats in the Middle East and called for dialogue to solve these problems.

Gray made the remarks following his meeting with Turkish Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ahmet Uzumcu and high-ranking officials from the ministry.

Asked about the expectations of the U.S. from Turkey regarding Iran's nuclear program, Gray said that the U.S. hasn't requested military support from Turkey. "The U.S. is devoted to the diplomatic process and pleased that Turkey supports this process," Gray said.

The visiting U.S. official also stressed that the U.S. respects the dialogue between EU countries and Iran and activities run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in that context.