“President [Barack] Obama and Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton continue to attach very high priority to our partnership with Turkey,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said in an interview in Ankara, Turkey recently. “This is a partnership based on mutual benefit and mutual respect ... [and its] importance is only going to increase for both of us in the months and years ahead.”
Deputy Secretary Burns had wide ranging discussions with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu on a number of issues of shared concern and common interest, including developments in Iraq, the need for international solidarity on Iran, the deteriorating situation in Syria and ways to strengthen coordination to support Egypt’s democratic transition, and strengthening our joint efforts to combat terrorism.
In addition to stressing the importance of expanding bilateral economic and commercial ties, Deputy Burns also reaffirmed U.S. support for Turkey’s constitutional reforms, underscoring the importance of ensuring that the reform process is inclusive, transparent, and respects freedom of expression so that all the citizens of Turkey can benefit.
“We also addressed the historic changes that are unfolding across the Middle East and our shared interest in the success of the democratic transitions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya,” Deputy Secretary Burns said. “Turkey offers an important model of success as a country that combines a dynamic democratic society with an active globally integrated economy and a deep Islamic heritage and culture.”
“We discussed our shared concerns about Syria, in particular the importance of putting an end to the Assad regime’s violence against its own people and the need to bring about a rapid democratic transition,” Deputy Secretary Burns continued. “We also reaffirmed our shared concerns about Iran’s failure to meet its international responsibilities and obligations on the nuclear issue and about the importance that we attach to ensuring that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.”
Developments in Iraq, the Balkans, in the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Cyprus, and Sudan were also among the issues discussed during Deputy Secretary Burns’ visit to Turkey.
“This extensive agenda,” said Deputy Secretary Burns in conclusion, “is a very strong reminder of the breadth and significance of [the U.S.-Turkey] partnership, of the positive role that Turkey plays on so many issues in this region and beyond, and of the value of the United States and Turkey working together.”