ANKARA, Turkey — A government minister on Thursday rejected claims that Turkey is turning its back on the West, insisting that his country's Islamic-oriented government is seeking trade partnerships around the world.
Zafer Caglayan, the minister who oversees foreign trade, told The Associated Press in an interview that his upcoming trip to the United States to boost trade is evidence that Turkey is committed to close ties with its ally.
The minister said trade between the two countries is far below its potential and that he will work to "triple and even quadruple" it during the next few years.
"We are old allies and have deep, friendly and brethren ties. But when we look at our trade figures, I hesitate to term our ties as a 'model partnership,'" Caglayan said.
"Turkey has a tiny share in the overall US trade volume. Our trade just does not match up to our friendship."
"There is no question of any shift in orientation," the minister said.
"Turkey has made it a principle to trade with all regions of the world."