Officials in Washington to address tensions with the US
A three-member delegation headed by Foreign Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu is holding talks in Washington this week to seek ways to overcome tensions in Turkish-US ties in the wake of Turkey voting against sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council and blasting Israel for killing its nationals on an aid ship. Sinirlioglu and Deputy Undersecretaries Tacan Ildem and Selim Yenel began talks on Monday by meeting with US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns. They also had talks with National Security Council Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy, and Richard Armitage, who heads the American-Turkish Council (ATC). The delegation was to meet with Special Envoy of the Secretary of State for Eurasian Energy Richard Morningstar and his advisor, former Ambassador to Ankara Mark Parris, on Tuesday. They were also due to have talks with Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, and address a closed session at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Turkish Ambassador in Washington Namik Tan is also attending the talks. The talks cover the full range of Turkish-US ties, and have been going well, according to diplomatic sources. Also according to sources, topic A of the talks has been Iran, with the Turkish side reiterating that Turkey won't be bound by unilateral US sanctions on Tehran. "Interstate energy agreements account for some 80 percent of the trade between Turkey and Iran," said one high-level Turkish official who attended the talks. "The remaining 20 percent is between private Turkish and Iranian companies. The US government says companies doing business with Iran can't deal with the US. Unilateral US sanctions on Iran won't be binding on Turkey. The US administration should discuss this matter with companies which do business with Iran."