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Queen Elizabeth begins her landmark visit to Turkey

Queen Elizabeth begins her landmark visit to Turkey

Queen Elizabeth begins her landmark visit to Turkey

Britain's Queen Elizabeth yesterday arrived in Ankara to pay a four-day official visit at the invitation of President Abdullah Gul. The queen's husband Prince Philip and British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband is also accompanying the queen on her visit. The British monarch was welcomed with an official ceremony at the Cankaya Presidential Palace by Gul and his wife Hayrunnisa. The queen first visited Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. "It is an honor to pay my respects to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a much-beloved friend of the United Kingdom and one of the great figures of modern history," she wrote in Anitkabir's memorial guestbook. Gul and his wife later hosted a banquet at the Presidential Palace in the queen's honor. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, and many leading figures from politics, business, and the media also attended. During the dinner, the queen made a toast in honor of the friendship between the two countries, and stressed Turkey's importance for Europe and the world. Saying that Turkey has been going through a critical period in recent years, the queen reiterated Britain's firm support for Turkey's EU accession bid, and highlighted the strategic partner relationship between the two countries. Referring to Ataturk's famous words on the British soldiers who died in Canakkale during World War I � "Those who lost their lives here are now sons of the Turkish people" � the queen said, "Ataturk is a great leader for not only the Turkish people, but also the British people." For his turn, Gul also underlined Turkey's strategic relationship with Britain, and said, "Our armies faced each other a number of times. But they also fought shoulder to shoulder against common enemies." Today the queen will travel to Bursa and visit historical sites of the city. She will also watch a traditional Turkish puppet show, and attend a fashion show. The international media is closely following her visit, and 750 foreign journalists and reporters are covering it. First Lady Hayrunnisa Gul will also accompany the queen on her visit to Bursa. /Sabah/

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