Jeffrey: "Despite our differences, the US welcomes Turkey's active mideast role"
The US welcomes Turkey playing an active role in the Middle East, outgoing US Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey said yesterday, adding that the Obama administration doesn't see Turkey as a model "moderate" Islamic country. Jeffrey, who was recently named the US' new Baghdad ambassador, made the remarks while visiting the Izmir branch of the Turkish-American Association. Asked about claims of an axis shift debate in Turkish foreign policy, Jeffrey told reporters that as NATO allies, Turkey and the US have intensive cooperation in such areas as northern Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, brushing aside "philosophical" issues such as the axis shift claims. "The Turkish government is conducting a very active diplomatic program in the Middle East," said Jeffrey. "Several disagreements came out between our countries at the UN Security Council. However, we welcome Turkey playing a more important role in the Middle East." Asked about Turkey being cited as a "moderate Islamic" model for the Middle East, Jeffrey said, "The Obama administration doesn't see Turkey as a model country of 'moderate Islam.' For us, Islam is Islam. Violence and extremists are always found in all societies, religions and countries."