Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Obama seeks warmer Turkey-Iraq relations

Press TV

US President Barack Obama has thrown his weight behind the growing Turkey-Iraq relations, the White House has confirmed in a statement.

Obama pledged his support while speaking with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the phone on Monday.

According to the White House, several other issues, including the importance of cooperation in Middle East peace efforts, and the US review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy were also discussed during the telephone conversations.

"In both calls, the leaders discussed a number of current issues, including US support for the growing Turkish-Iraqi relationship, the importance of cooperation in Middle East peace efforts, and the US review on Afghanistan and Pakistan policy," the White House said.

Obama further emphasized the importance of US-Turkish relations.

"The president emphasized his desire to strengthen US-Turkish relations and to work together effectively in NATO," the statement added.

Obama's decision came as US-Turkey ties face challenges stemming from the security situation in Iraq.

Turkey has been pressuring the US government to launch massive strikes against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) rebels in the northern mountainous region of Iraq.

The Bush administration had disagreed on the issue, saying that such attacks would threaten the relative stability of the region.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984, conducting attacks in the countryside from bases in northern Iraq. The violence has killed tens of thousands of people.

The Kurdish insurgents have escalated attacks since Turkey began raiding their bases in northern Iraq earlier this year. The militant group is listed as a terrorist organization by much of the international community, including the US and the EU.

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