In Talks with Obama, Turkish Leaders to Discuss Karabakh, Genocide, Armenia Ties

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–The Armenian Genocide, Turkish-Armenian relations, and ongoing peace talks around the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be on the agenda of talks between Turkey’s leaders and US President Barack Obama on his upcoming visit to Ankara early April, Turkish and Azeri news agencies reported on Friday.

Speaking in a televised interview on Friday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would underscore several issues during Obama’s visit, including Turkey’s position on the Middle East, South Caucasus and Central Asia, the Azeri Trend News agency reported.

Erdogan’s remarks come less than a week ahead of Obama’s scheduled visit and only five weeks ahead of April 24, the day internationally commemorated as the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Obama’s Ankara trip, which will take place between April 6-7, was announced on March 7 during an official visit to Ankara by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The LA Times reported on March 17 that Obama’s administration has been soliciting Ankara’s help on Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other security issues. Erodgan is expected to play up Turkey’s ability to help the United States in confrontations and conflicts that stretch from Israel to Afghanistan — via Syria, Iraq and Iran — and from Cyprus to the Caucasus.

"I do not find the level of Turkey-U.S. relations adequate. I believe the relations between Turkey and the United States should be enhanced," Erdogan said.

According to Trend, Erdogan also said the talks would focus on, among other things, how the United States could play a leading role in resolving lingering conflicts in the Caucasus, including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the impasse created by the Russian-Georgian war last August.

The Turkish Prime Minister was quoted by Trend as saying that a solution to the “problems between Azerbaijan and Armenia will help overcome the difficulties in relations between Turkey and Armenia.”

The Turkish World Bulletin online news portal, meanwhile, reported that Erodogan said the “incidents of 1915” would also be on the agenda of talks with Obama.

Turkish President Gul also spoke on the issue in Brussels Friday, echoing his Prime Minister’s sentimen’s and telling reporters that President Obama’s visit to Turkey would underscore “Turkey’s global importance.”

"There are strategic and quite important relations between Turkey and the U.S. Those relations go beyond the issues concerning our countries,” Gul told a press conference before leaving for Ankara. “Turkey and the United States hold perpetual consultations about regional and international developmen’s from Afghanistan to the Middle East.”

He said Turkey is pleased with Obama’s decision to pay a visit to the country, and added this will enable the countries to hold mutual consultations on a range of issues.

Ankara and its hired lobbyists in Washington have argued that Turkey is a valuable ally to have as the new administration prepares to withdraw its troops from Iraq, to boost troops in Afghanistan and to seek peace in the Middle East. Official Ankara signaled last week that it would be willing to allow the transit of U.S. troops through the country.

But despite winds of optimism on the future of Turkish-American relations, the first fissure between the two governmen’s has already emerged on the suspension of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) indictment of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. Turkey favors a deferral and looks set to vote in that direction if a vote takes place at the United Nations Security Council, despite requests to do the opposite from the Barack Obama administration.

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