POLITICS > Turkey can be key to Middle East peace process: US top diplomat


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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) hosts US Secretary of State John Kerry(L)  in Istanbul as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu accompanies the pair during their meeting at Dolmabahçe Palace. AA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (C) hosts US Secretary of State John Kerry(L) in Istanbul as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu accompanies the pair during their meeting at Dolmabahçe Palace. AA photo

Turkey can play a major role in the Middle East peace process, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on April 7, describing it as a “vibrant and energized” country after meeting his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoğlu.

“Turkey can be a key, an important contribution to the process of peace in so many ways,” Kerry told reporters in a joint press conference. He was speaking in Istanbul two weeks after U.S. President Barack Obama brokered a thaw between Turkey and Israel, whose relations were frozen by the killing of nine Turkish citizens in the deadly Mavi Marmara raid in 2010.

“I think in many, many respects a country as strong, and as vibrant as energized and as transformative as Turkey can have a profound impact by being a partner in this process,” he added.

Phone talks with Abbas and Mashaal

After talks in Turkey, Kerry headed to the West Bank, where he was scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He is also expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, in what will be his third trip to the Middle East region since the start of his tenure on Feb. 1.

Hours before Kerry’s visit, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu discussed the reconciliation process between rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, with the group’s leaders. Davutoğlu held phone talks with Palestinian President Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, discussing the current stage reached in the consensus between the two groups and the possible steps that could be taken within that scope. Davutoğlu told Palestinian officials that Turkey’s support and efforts to restore a consensus in Palestine would continue.

Kerry also called on Turkey and Israel to fully normalize their ties. “It is not for the United States to be setting conditions or terms,” Kerry said. “But we would like to see this relationship, which is important to stability in the Middle East and critical to the peace process itself, back on track in its full measure. To [achieve this], it is imperative that the compensation component of the agreement be fulfilled, that the ambassadors be returned, and that that full relationship is embraced … I am confident that there will be goodwill on both sides.”

For his part, Davutoğlu praised the efforts by President Obama and Kerry to help reconcile the two countries. “Now it will be important to make progress in fulfilling the conditions by taking rational and principled steps,” Davutoğlu said. “We have overcome the apology issue and now we’ll hold talks about compensation.”

Davutoğlu and Kerry said they had discussed the two-year-old civil war in Syria, including the shared goal for a peaceful transition there. They said a meeting of a core group of the Friends of Syria would take place soon. Kerry praised Turkey for its “generosity” toward refugees and commitment to keeping its borders open. The Iraq and the Cyprus issues were also on the agenda during their meeting.


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jim handley

4/9/2013 2:47:58 AM

@ilkner - keep up with the times. Petraeus is in disgrace. The country that's lost the most influence with the arabs right now is Iran... who most consider a far worse enemy than Israel.

jim handley

4/9/2013 2:44:07 AM

The US is not losing influence at all. That will be the day when Saudi Arabia and the Gulf seek protection from Turkey as opposed to the US. Also the Ottoman empire was gone way before Israel as a Jewish state was founded. Modern Israel has never looked at Turkey as a power that had influence in their immediate region. It was a friend at one time... before the AKP took over, that's it.

sam stevens

4/8/2013 11:33:52 PM

Kerry is an ignorant fool, that he can't see Turkey has no intention of creating peace with Israel, what Erdogan wants is 100% submission from the Jews, if the Americans can't see that as a handicap for negotiations they must be blind.

ilker avni

4/8/2013 7:18:03 PM

Its true that the united states is loseing creditablity or has lost creditablity in the eyes of the Arabic world in they dealings with the Palenstinians and they aims of a two state solutuion.It was they famous four star general petraus who said that the United states were loseing creditablity due to their undieing support for Israel and they crimes against the Palenstinians going unpunished thanks to American vetoes.Palenstinians has Turkey fighting for their cause now.

ilker avni

4/8/2013 7:10:36 PM

@ Mara Again your comment as no truth in it whats so ever that Turkey is isolating it self,the fact that American statesman Kerry is asking Turkey for its cooperation in normaliseing ties with a criminal state like Israel is proof enough. I dont remember the Turkish prime minster ever playing football with Assad perhaps you can show everdince of them ever playing football.

mara mcglothin

4/8/2013 4:55:40 PM

JAMES HEADINGTON The US isolated? Really, I didn't get that memo. It wasn't the US President that took an award from Ghaddafi, or played soccer with Assad, or announced that Muslims do NOT commit genocide. Seems that Turkey, in choosing their friends is fast isolating themselves.

young genius

4/8/2013 11:14:30 AM

@james headington I 100% agree with you

Steve Bruce

4/8/2013 8:30:47 AM

@james headington-'The US and Israel are well isolated in the world.'- How is the U.S. isolated ?

dennis kavaz

4/8/2013 6:50:09 AM

In spite Israel and Turkey having a problem, nevertheless if Israel and Palestine was probing (truthfully) for an equal result and Wanted a troika to arbitrate for them, Turkey being secular, a pro western, NATO member, and Turkey was the ex colonial power for both Israeli and Palestine and for the regions sake (which Turkey is also part of it ) surely Turkey was and still is, the nation to arbitrate.

jim handley

4/7/2013 10:25:29 PM

Turks can not sit with Israel which makes them a non-player here. Kerry's just making the rounds. Turkey and Israel might be able to cooperate clandestinely to help the Syrian Rebels defeat Assad, that's about it. The best that can happen now in the arab/Israeli conflict would be a long term Hudna brokered by Egypt or Jordan.
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