ISTANBUL (Combined Sources)–Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is meeting high-level officials from the Obama administration in Washington Tuesday to discuss foreign policy issues of importance to Turkey, reported the Turkish Hurriyet daily newspaper.
Davutoglu met on Monday with US President Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser James Jones in Washington and the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke.
He will meet Dennis Ross, the special envoy to Iran on Tuesday as well as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday.
Davutoglu’s visit came as Turkey took over the United Nations Security Council’s rotating presidency on Monday.
He will hold talks in New York on Wednesday and Thursday within the framework of Turkey’s rotating presidency at the U.N. Security Council.
In a meeting with reporters on Monday, Davutoglu praised the Obama administrations early foreign policy moves, AP reported. He said Obama had improved relations with Turkey with the speech made to Turkish lawmakers in Ankara in April.
The Turkish Foreign Minister will also deliver a speech Tuesday evening during an annual conference on US-Turkish relations hosted by the American-Turkish Council.
The Turkish Foreign Minister is accompanied by Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul, and Chief of General Staff Ilker Basbug, who together headed a delegation of Turkish government and business officials and business leaders to Washington DC for an annual conference with American counterparts on US-Turkish relations hosted by the American-Turkish Council.
Speaking at the conference, Gonul praised the United States for lending “serious assistance to the realization of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline connecting Azeri oil fields from the Caspian to Turkish ports in the Mediterranean.
US Democratic Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, addressed the conference earlier on Tuesday and was honored with an award.
The conference comes a week after a Democratic Congressional delegation represented by three senators and one congressman visited the Turkish capital of Ankara late last week for talks with Turkish legislators in the Turkey-US Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group, the Turkish Today’s Zaman Newspaper reported.
The delegation consisted of Senators Robert (Bob) Casey of Pennsylvania, Edward E. Kaufman of Delaware and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Congressman Timothy Waltz from Minnesota.
According to Zaman, Senator Casey told his Turkish counterparts that US-Turkish relations will improve and gain strength now that the new Administration and Congress are in place. “As [Abraham] Lincoln said, we should appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature’ in our relations,” he said, adding that he had personally learned much during his talks in Ankara.
Casey also told Today’s Zaman that he appreciated the backing of Turkish-Americans in his state when he launched his bid for a senate seat to oust incumbent Republican Senator Rick Santorum in 2006. Turkish-Americans in Pennsylvania had run fund-raising campaigns to support Casey at the time.
Casey was not a supporter of legislation, introduced in 2007, calling on the President of the United States to recognize the Armenian Genocide. The Pennsylvania senator also failed to support a resolution drafted that same year condemning the assassination of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.
Kaufman, meanwhile, praised Turkey’s growing activism in regional affairs. “What you are doing on the Armenian and Cyprus issues is making our jobs in the Senate easier,” said Kaufman, who replaced Vice President Joe Biden when he vacated his Senate seat. “The reason we are here is that we care about Turkey.”
A dinner was hosted in honor of the visiting congressional delegation on May 29 by the chairman of the Turkey-US Inter-parliamentary Friendship Group, AK Deputy Mevlut Cavusoglu. Representatives from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and advocacy group leaders from trade and media organizations attended the dinner.
Cavusoglu, for his part, praised relations between the two countries and said they were improving rapidly.