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Obama warns Turkish PM over stance on Israel, Iran

LONDON - Agence France-Presse | 8/16/2010 12:00:00 AM |

American President Barack Obama has warned Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that Ankara's position on Israel and Iran could lessen its chances of obtaining US weapons, a report said Monday.

United States President Barack Obama has warned Turkey's prime minister that Ankara's position on Israel and Iran could lessen its chances of obtaining U.S. weapons, a report said Monday.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wants to buy American drone aircraft to fight the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, after the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq at the end of 2011, Britain's Financial Times newspaper reported.

The PKK, which is listed a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has bases in the mountains in northern Iraq, near the Turkish border.

"The president has said to Erdoğan that some of the actions that Turkey has taken have caused questions to be raised on the Hill [Congress]," a senior administration official was quoted as saying in the daily paper.

These questions centered on "whether we can have confidence in Turkey as an ally," said the official. "That means that some of the requests Turkey has made of us, for example in providing some of the weaponry that it would like to fight the PKK will be harder for us to move through Congress."

The United States voiced disappointment after Turkey voted against fresh U.N. sanctions on Iran, which the United Nations Security Council adopted in June. Ankara argued that Tehran should be given a chance to carry out a nuclear fuel swap deal, brokered by Turkey and Brazil.

Relations between Turkey and Israel were thrown into crisis after a deadly Israeli raid targeting Gaza-bound aid ships on May 31 that left eight Turkish activists and a Turkish American dead.

Obama called on Turkey to cool its rhetoric about the raid when he met Erdoğan at the G20 summit in Toronto in June.

An Israeli official, meanwhile, said Turkey has snubbed the country's ambassador last week by not inviting him to a diplomatic dinner.

Lawmaker Ömer Çelik of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's party said the snub was a "display of criticism" of Israel's government.

The incident was the latest sign of deteriorating ties between the two formerly close allies.The Israeli official spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity because the ministry had no official comment.

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