Gul, Erdogan rebuff claims of US ultimatum to Turkey
Speaking to reporters en route to Azerbaijan for an official visit yesterday, President Abdullah Gul brushed aside press reports that US President Barack Obama warned Turkey it could lose its chance to obtain US-made weapons over its position on Israel and Iran, suggesting that people uncomfortable with Turkey's new activist foreign policy were behind the false report. "I would have known about it had there been such a warning," he said. "There is no problem in our relations with the US. Turkey has been pursuing a constructive policy in every field. But, for some, the Turkey that they were used to no longer exists. Instead, there is a Turkey that plays an active role in many processes. This is puzzling for some." The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Obama warned Erdogan about the issue during a meeting in Toronto at the G-20 gathering in late June, just weeks after the flotilla incident with Israel and Turkey voting against imposing new sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also played down the FT report, saying that Turkey enjoys very good relations with the US. "There are some distortions both at home and abroad," he said in a TV interview. "The US Congress can have different opinions about arms sales to Turkey. Our Parliament can also think differently about some matters. We feel comfortable with this. Such things may happen in international relations." Erdogan stressed that Turkish-US ties are quite good and that there's no trouble in the bilateral relationship. The US administration has not notified Congress of any big arms sale to Turkey to date this year. Earlier, Turkey sought six Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and two armed versions of the Predator UAVs, also known as Reapers, from the US, defense analyst Lale Kemal said. In September, the Obama administration notified Congress of a possible $7.8 billion sale of Patriot PAC-3 antimissile batteries and related gear to Turkey, a transaction that would be one of the biggest US government-to-government arms sales in years. Kemal said the administration's request for permission to sell arms reached Congress, according to her sources, but she said the administration might also think of putting the delivery of the arms on hold depending on Turkey's position regarding Israel and Iran.