Obama condemns ISIL attack on ‘beautiful’ Istanbul
Uğur Ergan - ANKARA
REUTERS photoThe White House considers a recent terrorist attack targeting Istanbul as an assault made against the United States, U.S. President Barack Obama told President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a Jan. 19 phone conversation, in which he described the city as “beautiful.”
Obama called Erdoğan late Jan. 19 to express his condolences and condemn the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suicide bombing which killed 10 German tourists on Jan. 12 in Istanbul.
Both the White House and the Turkish Presidency issued written statements following the conversation. “The president [Obama] spoke today by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to express his condemnation of, and offer condolences for, the Jan. 12 terrorist attack in Istanbul. The two leaders pledged to deepen cooperation in the fight against terrorism and reiterated their shared goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL. The president also condemned the recent string of [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] PKK attacks against Turkish security forces and stressed the need for de-escalation,” the statement from Washington said.
According to presidential sources, Obama cited the PKK’s recent attacks in the Çınar district of southeastern Diyarbakır province and ISIL’s attack in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul and expressed his condolences.
Expressing his gratitude for Turkey’s contribution to the fight against the ISIL, Obama recalled that the U.S. had designated the PKK a terror organization and would stand with Turkey in its fight.
Obama also reportedly had some kind words for Erdoğan about Istanbul, saying, “Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. We consider an attack targeting Istanbul as an assault against us.”
The conversation between Obama and Erdoğan took place just a few days before U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s planned visit to Istanbul. Biden will arrive in Istanbul late Jan. 21 and will stay in the city for two days. His official talks with Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu are scheduled for Jan. 23.