Addressing UN general assembly, Gul calls diplomatic dialogue only way forward on Iranian nuke issue"


Addressing the 65th session of the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday, President Abdullah Gul said that Turkey will continue its efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue. "There is no alternative solution to this issue other than diplomacy," he said, calling for ridding the region of nuclear weapons. As long as the fact that some countries in the midst of the region already possess nuclear weapons is ignored, Gul said, in a clear reference to Israel, no credible global non-proliferation regime is possible. He then called on all UN member countries to step up efforts towards a nuclear-free Middle East. Stating that peace-building and -keeping has always been a top priority for Turkey, Gul said Ankara has made significant efforts to ensure that negotiations at the UN Security Council towards that end make progress. Turning to Israel's May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which left nine Turkish peace activists dead, Gul said the unacceptable attack caused grave civilian losses, and constituted a stark violation of international law. In light of international law, Turkey has demanded that Israel officially apologize and compensate the families of the raid victims. Saying that Turkey places great importance on the work of a UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission probing the raid, Gul said Turkey welcomed its report on the incident released this week, which concluded that Israel had broken international law. "The report constitutes a firm legal framework in terms of uncovering facts concerning the raid," Gul said, adding that they expect a separate UN probe to finish its investigation of the incident as well. On Middle East peace efforts, Gul said ensuring lasting peace in the region is key to international peace and security. "Instability in this region brings seriously negative strategic results for the rest of the world as well," he added. On terrorism, Gul said the issue can't be tackled without effective, concerted, and tangible international cooperation. "Our struggle against terrorism is doomed to failure unless we fight all terrorist groups in the same way," he said. On the global economic crisis, Gul said Turkey supports international efforts under the G-20 umbrella to restore global growth and bring order to financial markets. Also addressing the UN assembly, US President Barack Obama said his country is still open to diplomatic engagement with Iran on its controversial nuclear program, again urging Iran to do what is necessary to convince the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful in nature. "The US and the international community are seeking a solution to our differences with Iran," he said. "As the door remains open for diplomacy, Iran must opt to go through that door. However, the Iranian government should also display a clear and credible commitment, and must confirm that its nuclear program is aimed at peaceful purposes." He called on UN member countries to unite around peace efforts to reach an agreement within a year for the security of Israel and an independent Palestine. Obama said Palestinians and Israelis should determinedly continue peace negotiations, and also urged the Israeli government to extend a moratorium on new Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Gul yesterday also presided over a meeting of the UN Security Council, and had separate talks with his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. He also spoke briefly with Obama during a luncheon hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for attending world leaders.