US Keen on Gul Accepting Sarkisian Soccer Invitation

ANKARA (Hurriyet)-The US administration is keen on seeing Turkey’s president accept an invitation by his Armenian counterpart to watch a September 6 soccer match between the two countries in Yerevan, according to the Turkish Hurriyet daily.

Officials from George Bush’s administration said it would be a "great opening" if President Abdullah Gul accepts the invitation and visits Yerevan to watch the soccer game between the Turkish and Armenian national teams, the 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," an official was quoted as saying. "We hope President Abdullah Gul accepts the invitation and visits Yerevan to watch the game."

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian formally invited Gul to Yerevan to watch the September 6 2010 World Cup qualifiers soccer match between Armenia and Turkey. Sarkisian repeated his invitation to Gul in his July 9 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he also proposed a "fresh start" in Armenian-Turkish relations.

Gul has yet to declare his official decision on the invitation as the evaluation of the Turkish foreign ministry continues.

Immediately after Sarkisian’s op-ed was published, Turkey called home all of its ambassadors to participate in brainstorming sessions on foreign policy issues, including Turkish relations with Armenia and specifically Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian’s invitation to Gul.

There are currently no diplomatic relations between Turkey and Armenia, as Ankara continues to condition the normalization of relations on Armenia accepting Azerbaijan’s position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, as well as abandoning its campaign for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide


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