Top US military offical calls Turkey key ally
A top US military official said on Tuesday that there is plenty of room for Turkey and the US to work together on common interests, stressing that Turkey has long been an American ally. The remarks of the newly appointed commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), Gen. James Mattis, came in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Describing Turkey as the only NATO member state that is fighting an active insurgency, Mattis said he believes there is a lot of room for Turkey and the US to continue to work together on common interests. Saying that Turkey has been a US ally since the 1950s, the new commander reviewed various areas in which Turkey has shown solidarity with the US. "Turkey has been an ally of ours since the Korean War, when they fought alongside us during that difficult period," he said. "They stood by us through the Cold War. They stood by us through sanctions against (then Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein at a time when it cost them economically severe consequences to their country." Mattis lamented that billions of dollars in Turkish-Iraqi trade dropped to zero after Turkey embraced US-led economic sanctions on Iraq before 2003, adding that Turkey doesn't want the same thing to happen over the Iranian nuclear issue. Turkey was a staunch opponent of sanctions on Iran, stressing that it has $10 billion in trade with the country and that diplomacy must be used.