Top US commander: "Ups and downs aside, Turkish-US ties should be sustained be sustained in the long run"
Stating that Turkish-US relations remain very strong, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen earlier this week stressed the importance of maintaining these ties in the long term despite ups and downs. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Aspen Security Forum on Monday, in remarks posted on the Defense Department website, Mullen called Turkey an ally of key importance. "I have a very strong relationship with my counterpart (Chief of General Staff Gen. Ilker Basbug), very strong relationship throughout the military with Turkey," he said. On the current state of Turkish-US ties, Mullen said, "This is a bumpy time, and … from my perspective … sustaining that (relationship) in the long run is really critical. … Relationships go through ups and downs, but the overall long-term importance of those two relationships, from my perspective, are critical." Asked whether Turks feel rejected by Europe and so are moving closer to the Muslim world, Mullen said, "I don't know. That's up to, obviously, Prime Minister (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan and the political leadership, and quite frankly, the people of Turkey … We've had a very strong relationship for a long, long time. And I think … we need to work our way through that and sustain that relationship." Mullen added, "They're a member of a critical alliance for us, with NATO. And they also reside, physically, in a very, very important part (of the world), strategically. So … exactly where they're going, it's a little bit difficult for me to figure out."