'Turkey to be US-Iranian go-between'

Gul to meet Ahmadinejad in Teheran on Tuesday, convey message from Obama. (The Media Line)

Abdallah Gul 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Abdallah Gul 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Following US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent visit to Turkey, the two countries agreed on several issues regarding Iran, chiefly among them that Turkish President Abdullah Gul would bring a message from Washington to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when they meet in Teheran on Tuesday, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported. Many Turks are hoping for a new beginning in US-Turkey relations, which became strained due to Ankara's refusal to allow US forces to open up a northern front when invading Iraq in 2003 by entering from Turkish soil. "Turkey is a country that is close to the US and Europe through its membership of NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] and via its discussions with the European Union about joining it," Dr. Joost Hiltermann, deputy program director, Middle East and North Africa with the International Crisis Group, told The Media Line. "At the same time it's a neighbor to Iran with longstanding ties to Iran, and Turkey has a vital interest that the relationship between Iran and Western states be negotiated peacefully," he said. Turkish newspapers are now speculating over when US President Barack Obama will visit and most bets are on for April 6-8 for a United Nations summit. However, it is not expected that Obama will give the major foreign policy speech designated for the Muslim world, which he intends to give early in his presidency, in Turkey. While Turkey has a strict secular constitution, implanted by the country's founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party is based on Islamic values, and a large number of Turks are Muslims.