I admire Atatürk and Turks: US defense chief

I admire Atatürk and Turks: US defense chief

I admire Atatürk and Turks: US defense chief

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. AP Photo

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reiterated yesterday that he admires Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, and Turks in his first press conference in the Pentagon, daily Hürriyet has reported.

“Well, I'm glad to know my standing is significant in Turkey. But - and I admire the Turks and the government, and Atatürk and I have over the years noted Atatürk in different speeches I've given, not just in Turkey, but the United States. He did something that was very significant that has had a very important sustaining legacy in the world. And sometimes we -- we in the West don't fully appreciate what Atatürk did.” Hagel said in response to a question.

Turkish-Israeli rapprochement critically important to the region

"The recent rapprochement between NATO member Turkey and major non-NATO ally Israel was critically important to the region," Hagel said.

“It does affect Syria,” he said. “It does affect the neighbors in developing more confidence, I would suspect, among the neighbors in that area that Turkey and Israel will once again begin working together on some of these common interests.”

Former Republican senator Chuck Hagel was sworn in on Feb. 27 as the new U.S. defense secretary.