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    US draws closer to AllIance

    by Fulya Özerkan
    02.04.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    ANKARA - The new U.S. administration has been showing increasing interest in the U.N.-led Alliance of Civilizations and could seek full membership in the future, the U.N. high representative to the international body said late Monday.

    "There has been a lot of diplomatic work in relation to this new administration and I am optimistic that this situation will evolve in the future," Jorge Sampaio, the U.N. high representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, told participants in a telephone press conference in advance of the summit to be held in Istanbul on April 6 and 7.

    "I am looking forward to the presence of the United States as member of the Group of Friends," he said.

    The United States is currently an observer in the Group of Friends, a collection of governments and international organizations supporting the Alliance of Civilizations' efforts to counter rising extremism and polarization. The alliance was launched in 2005 and is sponsored by the prime ministers of Turkey and Spain.

    Sampaio, the former president of Portugal, said he hoped the multilateral approach and the signals being given by the American administration would arrive at a "positive result," but declined to comment on the timing of an eventual U.S. membership.

    U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to participate in some panels on the second day of the forum, but an address before the alliance remains off the table, diplomatic sources said previously. Heads of government and state as well as senior representatives from international organizations will be attending the alliance meetings in Istanbul's historic Çırağan Palace.

    While responding to a question about Turkey's human-rights record and the country's role in the alliance, Sampaio said: "Spain and Turkey are the sponsors of the alliance. I don't think it will mix with internal affairs."
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