Obama has ‘Warm’ Talk with Turkish Leaders

WASHINGTON (Combined Sources) — US President Barack Obama on Monday called Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and had two "warm and productive" conversations, the White House said.

Obama and the Turkish leaders talked about Iraq, the need to work together on Middle East peace efforts and his administration’s review of US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the White House said in a statement.

"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," it said.

"The President emphasized his desire to strengthen US-Turkish relations and to work together effectively in NATO."

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

The Turkish Hurriety Daily Tuesday reported that President Obama and the Turkish leaders also discussed relations with Armenia with the U.S. president welcoming the recent push to establish dialogue between Turkey and Armenia and signaling he would refrain from taking any step that would harm these efforts.

The official readout of the president’s call was not posted on the White House Website as of Tuesday. Asbarez obtained the document and it contained no mention of statemen’s regarding Armenia. The release is provided below.

According to Hurriyet Prime Minister Erdogan stressed the importance of US-Turkish strategic cooperation. “Turkey’s stance on policies regarding the Middle East and Armenia is clear,” he is quoted by the Turkish paper as telling Obama. “America’s fair and impartial approach is important in order to prevent any damage to the bilateral relations.”

Obama’s call to Gul came just a few days after the Turkish president visited Moscow, seeking a closer relationship with the Kremlin, despite Turkey’s history as a rival of Russia.

Some analysts have seen Turkey, due to its key geographical position, as a key for redressing the influence of a resurgent Russia and a possible route out of Central Asia and the Caspian region for oil pipelines.

In January, President Gul urged Obama to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a priority, saying an active US engagement was needed to reach a settlement.

Turkey was also a key point of contact for the former Bush administration on Afghanistan, and helped US efforts to convince Pakistan to crack down on northwest tribal regions which are a stronghold for Afghan extremists.

Obama is currently conducting a review of US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the White House said Monday he would "shortly" make a decision on whether to send thousands more US troops into the Afghan war.

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THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
February 16, 2009

READOUT ON THE PRESIDENT’S CALL TO TURKISH PRESIDENT GUL AND PRIME MINISTER ERDOGAN

Earlier today, President Obama had warm and productive phone conversations with Turkish President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. Both discussions were wide-ranging. 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 President emphasized his desire to strengthen U.S.-Turkish relations and to work together effectively in NATO. In each call, he reiterated the need to cooperate to meet the challenges of the 21st century together. In both calls, the leaders discussed a number of current issues, including U.S. support for the growing Turkish-Iraqi relationship, the importance of cooperation in Middle East peace efforts, and the U.S. review on Afghanistan and Pakistan policy.

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