WASHINGTON - Turkey favors "economic interdependence" with Iran over energy-related sanctions on the neighboring country, a top adviser to the Turkish prime minister said after meetings with aides to President Barack Obama, according to report by Bloomberg.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said last week in Ankara that the U.S. does not want Iran to contribute gas to the pipeline.
The United States is trying to maintain economic pressure on Iran to steer the country away from a nuclear weapons program. Iran, which has the world’s second-largest gas reserves after Russia, has postponed field development plans as international sanctions hamper funding for its energy industry.
Historic era in bilateral ties
Obama’s visit to Turkey so early in his administration, will underscore that relations with the United States are on strong footing, after difficulties tied to the Iraq War during the Bush administration, Davutoğlu said.
"We are in a historic era where our policies are almost identical on all issues," he said.
Davutoğlu said he was confident that relations would remain on "solid ground," when pressed on whether he thought Obama was likely to declare the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as genocide in an annual statement next month.
The issue should not "hijack the strategic vision of Turkish-American relations," Davutoğlu said. Davutoğlu also said Turkey was presently working on a set of measures to improve relations with Armenia, from which "everyone in the Caucasus would benefit," reported Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review’s Ümit Enginsoy from Washington.
At a separate meeting with Turkish journalists, Davutoğlu said he hoped not to see a development in Washington that could derail this process.
"On all matters, we have the impression that our positions are almost identical. Our counterparts appreciate our active policies in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Caucasus," Davutoğlu said.
He recalled that former president Bill Clinton visited Turkey during his seventh year as president and Bush's visit came in his fourth year. "But Obama will be paying his first, very first, bilateral visit to Turkey. This shows the importance the U.S. attaches to Turkey," he said.
He also praised an ongoing mechanism of cooperation among Turkey, the U.S., the Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurds to counter the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which attacks Turkish targets from bases in northern Iraq. Davutoğlu said the Obama administration is now involved in a historic rapprochement process with Syria, which Turkey supports. He said Turkey and the Bush administration disagreed on how to approach Syria, with Turkey calling for engagement with Damascus and the former Washington administration seeking its isolation.
10,000 cops for Obama’s security
Thousands of Turkish police will act as U.S. President Barack Obama’s security while in Turkey, private channel NTV reported Friday. Any leave has been suspended for Ankara and Istanbul police due to the visit.
Obama’s program is about to be finalized but there are still some uncertainties that have not been disclosed due to security reasons, the report said. Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected to arrive in Ankara on April 5, probably in the late afternoon.
Obama will make his first visit to Anıtkabir on the morning of April 6 and then will proceed to the Presidential Palace for the official welcoming ceremony. President Abdullah Gül and Obama will first hold one on one talks and then preside over the delegations’ meeting. Obama will also meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and will deliver a speech to the Turkish Parliament. Obama will go to Istanbul with Erdoğan on the same plane. In Istanbul, Obama is expected to visit a university where he will meet with Turkish university students.
On April 7, Obama will participate in the Alliance of Civilizations’summit, where U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki Moon and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero will also be present.