Obama: "Our relationship with Turkey is more important than ever"
The relationship between Turkey and the United States remains strong and is "more important than ever" in the wake of leaked US diplomatic cables critical of some officials in Ankara, US President Barack Obama said in an e-mail interview with Turkish daily Hurriyet published yesterday. In a recent conversation with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Obama said, the two leaders "reaffirmed the strong state of US-Turkish relations" despite some differences "from time to time." "Our partnership is resilient, and we agreed that the irresponsible acts of WikiLeaks do not threaten it," said Obama. "Given the increasingly complex challenges the world faces, I believe that US-Turkish cooperation is more important now than ever." In the interview, Obama addressed many of the most important issues facing Turkey, including its EU bid, its ties with Israel and the West, and how it deals with its Kurdish population and religious minorities. Reiterating US support for Turkey's fight against the terrorist PKK, Obama hailed Ankara's moves to improve the "human rights and economic situation for Kurds," including loosening restrictions on teaching Kurdish and on public and private broadcasting in Kurdish. On the diplomatic chill between Turkey and Israel, Obama encouraged the two US regional allies to "find an acceptable way forward" and "do everything they can to repair their relations," while praising Erdogan's decision to send assistance to Israel earlier this month to battle a devastating forest fire.