Ankara seeks Washington's help in dispelling misconceptions about Turkish foreign policy
All issues of common concern were discussed in detail during talks this week in Washington between a high-profile Turkish delegation led by Foreign Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and US foreign affairs, defense and trade officials, according to diplomatic sources. Bilateral ties, the Iranian nuclear issue, Iraq, Turkey's strained relations with Israel, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Afghanistan were all up for discussion. The talks, which focused on finding new areas of cooperation between the two countries, as well as ways to address shortcomings in bilateral ties, took place as part of regular political consultations between the two countries, the same sources said. Stating that Turkish-US cooperation covers a wide variety of areas, the Turkish side reportedly highlighted a recent rash of misconceptions among some US commentators and officials about Turkish foreign policy, especially after Ankara voted against new sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council as well as Turkey's denunciation of Israel's May 31 aid flotilla raid, which left eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent dead. Misinterpretation and misrepresentation of Turkey and its foreign policy decision mostly stem from certain US congressmen and media outlets, Turkish officials told their US counterparts, and asked for their help in defusing baseless misgivings about Turkey and its foreign policy. Saying that Turkey currently enjoys close, intense cooperation with the US, the Turkish delegation assured US officials that Ankara wants to strengthen this cooperation. The Turkish side stressed that Turkey's foreign policy goals largely overlap with those of the US, and that they differa only in terms of timing and tactics. The delegation also made clear that Turkey isn't taking sides in the Iranian nuclear issue but rather pursuing its own interests in line with its own policies. Noting the surprise and concern among some over Turkey's foreign policy decisions in recent years, Turkish officials also told their US counterparts that similar surprise was shown during the Cold War, whenever Turkey acted independently. The US side responded positively to the Turkish side's request for help in keeping Congress better informed about Turkey and its foreign policy, so as to dispel any prejudices and misperceptions. In related news, when asked in a televised interview whether any foreign power was playing a role in Turkey's constitutional reform process, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey is not a country that a foreign actor can direct.