U.S. to seek Turkey's cooperation on Iran, Iraq, Syria

Monday, June 16, 2003

The United States has set terms for an improvement of relations with Turkey.

U.S. officials said the conditions will be relayed to a Turkish delegation that begins talks with the Bush administration this week. They said the terms will focus largely on Turkish cooperation with U.S. interests in Iran, Iraq and Syria.

"It's an advantage for us and, I believe, an advantage for Turkey to be cooperating on them because we each have stakes," Richard Haass, director of the State Department Policy and Planning Staff, said. "And obviously, we're more likely to take each other's interests into account if we consult closely and if we cooperate whenever possible."

The Turkish delegation is headed by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal and were to meet senior State Department officials on Monday, Middle East Newsline reported. The delegation will seek to renew Turkey's strategic dialogue with the United States, suspended since the war in Iraq.

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In March, Ankara refused to allow U.S. troops to move through Turkey to form a northern front against the regime of President Saddam Hussein. U.S. officials said this lengthened the war and set back relations between Ankara and Washington.

"We were obviously disappointed with Turkey's policies, reactions to the situation in Iraq," Haass told a briefing on Friday. "It's not up for me to sit here and advise the Turkish government or the Turkish people what's in their own self-interest. That's for Turks to decide. I would hope, however, that there will be or already is, you know, a process of reflection on issues on decisions that were taken."

Haass said the United States continues to value relations with Turkey. He said Turkey has become a laboratory where Islamists have taken power peacefully and democratically.

Eric Edelman, recently appointed as the new U.S. ambassador to Turkey, agreed. He said on Friday that Turkey and the United States needed to "rebuild its strategic partnership" in wake of the fall of the Saddam regime.

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