Monday, March 16, 2009

US President Obama to address Parliament

Hurriyet Daily News

ANKARA - The Turkish Parliament will convene a special session on April 6 and 7 to coincide with a landmark visit by U.S. President Barack Obama, who is expected on a Monday, when the legislative body usually does not meet.

The office of the Parliament Speaker has taken the initiative to plan this extraordinary parliamentary session and is talking with the deputies of all parties to pave the way for the U.S. president to address the Turkish legislature.

Visiting presidents in Turkey traditionally address Parliament. Among former U.S. presidents, Bill Clinton made a speech there in November 1999, but his successor, George W. Bush, who came to Turkey to participate in a NATO summit, was unable to do so because of other obligations. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev was the most recent foreign head of state to address the Turkish legislature, during his November 2008 visit.

Baring any last-minute changes, Obama will address the General Assembly on April 6. The U.S. president is also expected to attend an Istanbul summit of the U.N.-sponsored Alliance of Civilizations. Daily Milliyet reported Friday that Obama would meet with Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartolomeos on April 7 before returning home.

While visiting Ankara last weekend, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington did not consider Turkey a "moderate Islamic country," an expression often used by the Bush administration.

In a televised interview with private channel CNNTürk, Matthew Bryza, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, reiterated Friday that Turkey should not be described as an Islamic country. Commenting on the presidential visit, Bryza said Obama was coming to Turkey for talks on bilateral ties, adding that Turkey’s passing through a long process of modernization and reforms made it an important country for the entire region.

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