Ankara bristles at allegations of White House ultimatum over arms sales
Turkish leaders yesterday continued to deny a news report that President Barack Obama had warned Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey stands little chance of getting weapons it wants to buy from the US unless it changes its stance on Iran and Israel. "No country can issue warnings against Turkey. No one, particularly, can talk to the prime minister in such a tone," said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of the report, which appeared in the Financial Times on Sunday. Citing an anonymous US official, the daily reported that Obama told Erdogan that some of Turkey's actions have "caused questions to be raised" in Congress and thus Turkey's weapon requests could be harder to move through the US Congress. The warning came during the two leaders' meeting on the sidelines of a G-20 gathering in Toronto in late June, claimed the report. Davutoglu, however, said the meeting in Toronto was a "friendly" one, befitting the good ties between the two allies. "It was a conversation between leaders of perfectly equal countries. Thus, there was no warning and these claims are completely unfounded," Davutoglu said during a visit to the southeastern province of Kahramanmaras. The government says ties with the US are strong, particularly at a time when the two countries are intensifying dialogue over stabilizing Afghanistan and ensuring a smooth US withdrawal from Iraq. The US also denied the report, with White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton saying, "We obviously have an ongoing dialogue with them (Turkey). But no such ultimatum was issued." Speaking late on Monday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's ties with the US ties are at a "historic peak," although he admitted that some in Congress are unhappy with Turkey's policies and that this could affect US actions regarding Turkey. "There might be difficulties in arms trade; such issues are internal issues for any country," Erdogan said, emphasizing that his government might also change its course of action due to views in Parliament. "This is natural," he said, and added that Turkey is now capable of producing many of the weapons it needs.