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U.S. And Turkey Have Common Concerns

Seeking to improve relations with Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan's invitation to visit Ankara on March 7.

"We have been good allies in NATO, ... and we have been friends," said Secretary of State Clinton:

"We have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to face common challenges. We share a commitment to democracy, a secular constitution, respect for religious freedom, a belief in free markets."

During their meeting, Secretary Clinton and Minister Babacan pledged to cooperate on a number of common goals, including helping to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza; expanding the natural gas and oil delivery infrastructure from the Caspian basin and Iraq to European and world markets; and enhancing cooperation between the 2 countries in fighting terrorism, especially against their common enemies al-Qaeda, and the Kurdistan Workers' Party terrorist group, or PKK.

Secretary Clinton and Minister Babacan also discussed Turkey's long-time aspiration of membership in the European Union, a goal that the United States fully supports.

"The United States believes it will strengthen Turkey, Europe and our trans-Atlantic partnership," said Secretary Clinton.

As a final gesture of friendship, Secretary Clinton announced that, as a reflection of the value the U.S. places on its friendship with Turkey, President Barack Obama will visit Turkey next month. When President Obama comes to Turkey, said Secretary Clinton, "he will find not only a partner for the challenges and opportunities that we face together, but a friend for all times and all challenges that lie ahead."