US expects Turkey to reduce Iran oil imports
ISTANBUL-Hürriyet Daily NewsThe United States has announced a list of countries that have taken steps to reduce oil imports significantly from Iran, adding that it expects other countries, including Turkey, to do so in the near future. U.S. ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone also said that military intervention in Syria was the last resort and an undesirable one.
Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul yesterday, Ambassador Ricardione said the U.S. remained in conversation with the Turkish government on reducing oil imports from Iran.
“We certainly hope Turkey will reduce its oil imports from Iran, but we have not come to a conclusion about Turkey’s decision in this regard,” Ricciardione said.
Riccardione added that his clear understanding from speaking with Turkish colleagues was that they shared the same goal with Turkey about Iran’s nuclear program, while at the same time Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was at a meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.
“We cannot find a way out by playing scratch cards. We do not want empty words, we want a solution,” Riccardione said, regarding Iran’s nuclear program. “Turkey does not wish to see Iran as a nuclear state and neither does the U.S. We want to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state,” he said.
Ricciardione also touched on Turkish–Israeli relations, saying both were friends of the U.S. and important countries in the region.
“The ties between the two allied countries should continue to contribute to the prosperity in the region. We want Turkey and Israel to overcome the difficulties soon,” Ricciardione said.
‘Military option is the last resort’
Riccardione also said the “dangerous, unstable, morally unacceptable situation and killing in Syria has to stop,” but added “military intervention [was] not necessarily needed now.”
“Together we will think through how we will deal with this dreadful situation. Military force is absolutely the last resort and an undesirable one. This is a situation in which there are no easy answers, no simple answers, no magic can be produced but we are working on it together,” Riccardione said.
The ambassador said he would be proud if he was a Turkish citizen, as Turkey was hosting the opposition factions of Syria to freely hold talks.
“My expectation from the meeting this Sunday is to bring together Turkish and American wisdom with our Arab and European friends. We are coming together to offer more effective support for the Syrian people. Many have chosen this free place to come together, as a lot of different Syrians factions cannot come together in their own country. If I were a Turk I would be very proud that my country was able to host people who cannot talk freely in their own country; it is very exciting. But I do not expect an instant solution on Monday morning,” Riccardione said.
Nevertheless Riccardione opposed the idea of arming the opponent powers in Syria, “The UN is working hard to stop the violence, but putting in more arms would make the situation worse.”