WASHINGTON - Turkey must do more to cement democratic gains and smooth prickly ties with neighbors such as Israel if it is to emerge as a guarantor of Middle Eastern stability, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.
Clinton, speaking to the American-Turkish Council in Washington, said the "Turkish miracle" had seen that country's economy triple in size over the last decade as reforms opened up both the political and economic sectors to new competition.
But she said Ankara - which hopes to draft a new constitution by the first half of 2012 - must be careful to ensure that human rights are respected, minority groups are included and media freedoms are guaranteed.
"Turkey's ability to realize its full potential depends upon its resolve to strengthen democracy at home and promote peace in the neighborhood," Clinton said in prepared remarks.
Clinton is preparing to travel to Istanbul for an international conference on Wednesday aimed at consolidating international support for Afghanistan, where Muslim Turkey has troops in non-combat roles working with NATO forces.