Erdogan begins talks in New York
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with his wife Emine arrived yesterday in New York to attend several international meetings as well as hold various talks. Accompanied by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan, chief negotiator for EU talks Egemen Bagis, and Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek, Erdogan is set to attend the 64th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, and later a G-20 summit in Pittsburg. In his video message to a UN summit on global warming yesterday, Erdogan said that Turkey haS taken significant steps in recent years to address problems arising from climate change. Saying that Turkey's position in the Eastern Mediterranean basin leaves it more exposed to climate change, Erdogan said his government has stepped up efforts to minimize the expected impact such as flooding, desertification, and water shortages. Erdogan also said that in a sign of its awareness of the importance of international cooperation to fight climate change, Turkey early this year ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Erdogan yesterday also met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and received representatives of US Jewish groups, including Anti-Defamation League head Abraham H. Foxman, and gave an address at the State University of New York's Levin Institute on the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN initiative headed by Turkey and Spain to boost cooperation and dialogue among countries of different religious and cultural backgrounds. During the meeting, the Jewish group representatives reportedly sought Turkey's support to head off the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, including nuclear weapons. In response, Erdogan reportedly said Turkey opposes the spread of any kind of WMDs, including nuclear ones, in both its region and the world. Mentioning Iran's claim that its nuclear program a peaceful one, Erdogan said Ankara has always stressed to Tehran that it is opposed to nuclear weapons. Erdogan also expressed Turkey's readiness to again mediate between Syria and Israel, after this mediation was halted early this year due the Israeli offensive in Gaza. During the meeting, Erdogan told the groups about the ongoing reconciliation process between Turkey and Armenia towards normalized relations, and urged the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has been mediating for more than a decade to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh issue between Azerbaijan and Armenia, to intensify efforts for a permanent solution to the issue, thus also helping the reconcile Ankara and Yerevan. Foxman and other representatives reportedly expressed support for these normalization efforts, adding that a US congressional resolution endorsing the genocide claims would do nothing to help resolve differences between Turks and Armenians. The representatives of US Jewish groups also praised Turkey putting the issue of discrimination first in its lesson plans for elementary and high schools throughout Turkey this year.