NEW YORK (Hürriyet Daily News)—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives Turkey’s FM Davutoğlu a high five in Abu Dhabi on June 9, 2011, when Ankara and Washington was having warmer relations.
The United States has urged Turkey to forge better ties with Israel and Greek Cyprus as it backed the latter’s right to explore for gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Turkey to “keep the door open” to better ties with Israel, seeking to prevent relations between the two U.S. allies from worsening. A senior U.S. official said Clinton had encouraged Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to repair the badly strained relations and play a positive role in resolving the Palestinian issue in the U.N. General Assembly that opens Wednesday.
“The secretary made clear that this is not a time when we need more tension, more volatility in the region,” said a second official, apparently referring to deteriorating Israeli ties with Egypt and Jordan and tensions with the Palestinians.
In her talks with Davutoğlu, Clinton also made known the U.S. position on Greek Cyprus’s energy exploration projects, a senior U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. Washington “supports [Greek] Cyprus’s right to explore for energy,” and “doesn’t believe that should undermine or interfere with the talks” to resolve the Cyprus problem, the official said.
The United States “agrees with all of those who believe that the best way to sort out the question of energy and economic development is through a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem,” the official said. Turkey said it will start its own oil and gas drilling in the Mediterranean after Greek Cyprus said it began gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean on Sunday.
A bipartisan group of senators has meanwhile urged U.S. President Barack Obama to “send a strong message that the U.S. will forever remain committed to Israel’s security.” In their joint letter to Obama, the senators wrote: “It appears that Turkey is shifting to a policy of confrontation, if not hostility, toward our allies in Israel and we urge you to mount a diplomatic offensive to reverse this course.”
Turkey has suspended military ties with Israel, expelled top Israeli diplomats and threatened additional actions unless Israel apologizes for last year’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which killed nine Turkish citizens. Israel has stopped short of an apology, only expressing its regret for the incident.