GeriGündem Obama's landmark visit to Turkey ends with a promise of new chapter
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Obama's landmark visit to Turkey ends with a promise of new chapter

ISTANBUL - U.S. President Barack Obama left Turkey after his two-day visit by sending the world a message of the opening of a new chapter in his country's engagements. (UPDATED)

PART I of Obama's Q&A session

PART II of Obama's Q&A session


PART III of Obama's Q&A session


PART IV of Obama's Q&A session


Photo Ed: Highlights of Obama's two-day visit


"I am personally committed to a new chapter in American engagement," Obama told college students in Istanbul, last stop of his first overseas visit. "We can't afford to talk past one another and focus only on our differences, or to let the walls of mistrust go up around us."


Some 100 students formed a tight circle around the new U.S. president, who slowly paced a sky-blue rug while answering their questions during the meeting which was organized in an Ottoman-period building.


Obama departed Turkey, wrapping up his maiden visit to a mainly Muslim country and his first trip overseas as president, after his meeting with the students, news agencies reported. 


Change he believes in

Obama said the United States needs to be more patient in its engagements, adding the rest of the world needs a better sense "that change is possible so we don't have to always be stuck with the same arguments."


During his visit to Turkey the president, who built his election campaign on the promise of change, signaled a shift in his administration's foreign policy.


These signals transformed into a question during the discussion when a student asked whether it is correct or not that although there has been a change in presidents in the United States, the policies appear to remain the same.


"Let time show," he replied, adding he opposed the Iraq war before the invasion, but now as a president, he has the responsibility to withdraw American troops without creating destruction.


Although a gulf of differences existed over his predecessors opinions on issues including Iraq and climate change, Obama said it takes time to change a nation. "States are like big ships. Moving the ship of state is a slow process," he added.


Image of the U.S.

Obama rejected "stereotypes" about America, including that it has become selfish and crass.


"I'm here to tell you that's not the country I know and not the country I love... America, like every other nation, has made mistakes and has its flaws, but for more than two centuries it has strived to seek a more perfect union," he said.


The election of an African-American president with an unusual name as "Barack Hussain Obama" made people feel good that the United States still has lots of opportunities and this is a testimony to the decline in racial discrimination.


"The world will be what you make of it," Obama advised the students. "You can choose to make new bridges instead of new walls."


Visit to historic sites

Before meeting with the students in Istanbul, Obama, accompanied by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, visited the Hagia Sophia museum and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district.


The museum - first a basilica, then a mosque, now a Byzantine architectural wonder - dates to 537 and is a shrine to the art, religion and culture of the city of 20 million.


The nearby Blue or Sultanahmet Mosque is famed for its massive dome, minarets and thousands of hand-painted blue tiles.


He earlier met with Grand Mufti of Istanbul Mustafa Cagrici, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop Yusuf Cetin, Chief Rabbi of Istanbul Isak Haleva, and Armenian Patriarch Mesrob II Archbishop Aram Stesyan at his hotel in Turkey's largest city during his final day in the country.


On Monday, Obama addressed lawmakers at Parliament, held talks with the Turkish leaders and visited the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in the capital, Ankara.


His two-day visit to Turkey was the last leg of his debut trip to Europe, which began on March 31 and saw him attend a G-20 summit in London, a NATO summit in France and Germany and a European Union gathering in Prague.



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