Turkey denies clash with US

Report had said Obama warned Erdogan Iran, Israel stance.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
August 19, 2010 02:01
2 minute read.
TURKISH PRIME MINISTER Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – Turkey is denying that the US warned it that it might lose out on arms deals because of its stance toward Israel and Iran.

“No country can issue warnings against Turkey. No one, particularly, can talk to the prime minister in such a tone,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying in the Instanbul-based Today’s Zaman.

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Davutoglu was responding to a story in the Financial Times on Sunday in which an anonymous Obama administration official reported that US President Barack Obama personally informed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the country might have trouble getting congressional approval for military sales given its harsh criticism of Israel and vote against UN sanctions on Iran.

The White House also denied that any “ultimatum” was delivered to Turkey.

But members of Congress, who can block arms sales, have indicated their displeasure over Turkey’s recent stances. Regardless of the administration’s posture, that could cause problems in Ankara’s ability to acquire American drones for use against the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq, once US combat troops withdraw.

Eliot Engel (D-New York) took particular umbrage at the notion that the US would provide Turkey with the tools to go after a group it considers a terrorist organization outside its borders while harshly criticizing Israel’s efforts to enforce a blockade of Gaza lest weapons reach the Hamas government in control of the coastal strip.

He called the stance “totally hypocritical” in a recent conversation with The Jerusalem Post.

“They cannot have it both ways,” he said. “They cannot be unhelpful when it affects our most important ally in the region, Israel, and when it affects us, the United States. It can’t act negatively in that regard and then think it’s business as usual for their needs.”

Nine Turkish citizens were killed by IDF forces on a flotilla trying to break the Gaza blockade in May, setting off severe tensions between the two countries.

The US has tried to tamp down the rhetoric between the two sides, and has emphasized its constructive relationship with Ankara despite differing with its response to the flotilla incident as well as its stance on Iran.

“The United States has a deep and strong relationship with Turkey, which is an important NATO ally,” White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer told the Post following the Financial Times report.

“The president has established a productive dialogue with Prime Minister Erdogan since their first meeting in April 2009 in Ankara.”

Davutoglu in Today’s Zaman also described Obama’s most recent encounter with Erdogan, which took place in Toronto during a meeting of representatives the G-20 major economies, as a “friendly” one.

“It was a conversation between leaders of perfectly equal countries. Thus, there was no warning and these claims are completely unfounded,” he said.


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