WASHINGTON–DC (Combined Sources)–To mend relations with the US that soured over the failure to secure a northern front for US troops in the war against Iraq–Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal arrived in Washington–DC to hold a series of talks about Turkey’s planned policy changes. Ziyal is the most senior Turkish official to visit Washington since the turn in relations between the two.
"If there were any misconceptions–all of them have been cleared,” Ziyal–told a news conference. "Certainly there was disappointment on both sides–we had counted so much on one another," Ziyal said.
The changes Ziyal introduced embrace reforms the US has asked Turkey to consider–including Turkey’s readiness to reevaluate its past policy on Iraq. Turkey has pledged to establish closer relations with Iraq’s Kurds–and abandon consistent threats to meddle in their affairs.
Ziyal–who had talks at the White House–the State Department and the Pentagon–said Turkey and the United States had a common vision of what Iraq should look like and Turkey would welcome the opportunity to help with reconstruction.
Turkish companies are eager for access to the Iraqi market–where they have operated before and retain good contacts.
"We have provided a list where we have comparative advantages and we hope to start cooperation soon with the Bremer team in Baghdad,” Ziyal said.
Paul Bremer is the US civilian administrator in Iraq in charge of a reconstruction program expected to be worth billions of dollars once Iraqi oil comes back on the market.
Meeting with Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice–Ziyal said–"The message was that they would like to work with Turkey. We have decided to look forward–and I come away very satisfied with my consultations with American colleagues."
On Turkish-Armenian relations–Ziyal said that Turkey has initiated dialogue with American-Armenian organizations in order improve relations. As reported by the Armenian National Committee today–Ziyal dismissed–however–the idea that this dialogue between the Turkish government and Armenia’s would ever lead to Turkish acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide.
Turkey-based Marmara Armenian newspaper reports that–in order to appease the US and Israel–Ziyal pledged that Turkey would steer clear of Yassir Arafat and all parties affiliated with him–and promised to conduct reserved relations with Syria and Iran.
He was accompanied on his visit by another Foreign Ministry official Baki Ilkin–a former ambassador to Washington.
The two also discussed the state of Turkish-US relations with Stephen Hadley–deputy national security adviser–Marc Grossman–undersecretary of state for political affairs–and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is expected in Washington within a month on a visit which will symbolize rapid recovery between the two countries.