Incoming ambassador Ricciardone calls Turkey vital ally of the US
Named by US President Barack Obama the next ambassador to Turkey, Francis Joseph Ricciardone, who is set to replace outgoing James Jeffrey, on Tuesday called Turkey a vital ally for the US. Testifying at his confirmation hearing, Ricciardone told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that for the last 30 years, he has been observing Turkey's transformation towards becoming a more democratic, open and economically dynamic country that wields stronger influence on the global stage. Stating that Washington was disappointed that Turkey didn't support sanctions against Iran over its contentious nuclear program at the UN Security Council, Ricciardone added, "As ambassador, I will continue to emphasize that the United States needs Turkey's help for Iran to understand that it must engage directly with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and P5+1 (the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) on the international community's concerns about its nuclear program." As a NATO and G-20 member and temporary UN Security Council member country with one of the world's fastest-growing economies, Turkey continues to be a key ally and strategic partner for the US, Ricciardone said, stressing the vital importance of military cooperation between Turkey and the US. Ricciardone also vowed to work towards restoring Turkish-Israeli relations, saying tension between the two US allies threatens Washington's vital interests. He also called Turkey one of the most important partners of the US in the fight against international terrorism, stressing that Turkey and the US share the top-priority security goal of eliminating the terrorist PKK.