US gives boost to Turkey over Syria

US gives boost to Turkey over Syria

US gives boost to Turkey over Syria

The ongoing crisis in Syria cannot be solved without collaboration between Turkey and the United States, says Washington’s Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone. AA photo

There is “no silver bullet” to fix the “tragic and complex” situation in Syria, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said while praising the importance of Turkey’s collaboration on the crisis. 

“From every angle, the situation in Syria is enormously complex and tragic. There is no silver bullet,” Panetta told members of the American-Turkish Council on June 11.

Panetta said Washington would “continue to work together with Turkey and the international community to bring pressure on [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad to step down, to bring about an orderly political transition in Damascus, and to bring an end to the Syrian people’s suffering.”

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone also said the crisis in Syria could not be solved without collaboration between Turkey and the U.S. 

Turkey has pledged to protect Syrians who have fled from violence in their country. Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz said at a dinner in Washington on the sidelines of the ATC’s June 11 conference that Turkey was ready to take all necessary measures to protect Syrians in Turkey if there was a threat to their lives.

Yılmaz also implored the international community to act in such a way so as to end violence in Syria. “Giving more time to Bashar al-Assad will result in the death of more innocent humans. … We need to act fast and together,” he said.

Panetta also underlined Turkey’s leadership role in the region. “As part of a shared vision for security and stability in the Middle East, the U.S. strongly supports Turkey’s growing and vital leadership role as a prosperous, democratic nation,” he said. Both Washington and Ankara support “the historic wave of democratic change that is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa,” he added.

The Pentagon chief said Turkey had played a positive role in helping Iraq become a source of stability in the region. “America will continue to work with both Iraq and Turkey to address areas of mutual concern, such as shared borders and counter-terrorism, while respecting Iraq’s constitution and its sovereignty,” he said.

Restoring ties with Israel

During the ATC meeting, Panetta urged Turkey and Israel to restore their strained ties. “I believe it is very important for Turkey and Israel to find a way to come together and repair their relationship,” he said. “There is much to gain through cooperation and much to lose in its absence.” 

Tensions between Turkey and Israel spiked after an incident in which nine Turks were killed when Israeli commandos stormed an aid ship seeking to break the blockade on Gaza in May 2011.

Panetta further praised Turkey’s contributions to NATO’s Afghanistan mission. “Turkey continues to make vital contributions in Afghanistan.” Recalling a recent helicopter crash in Kabul in which 12 Turkish soldiers were killed, he said Turkey remained focused on the mission despite the incident. 

“We have much to learn from Turkey and welcome Turkey’s leadership in solving some of NATO’s biggest security challenges. We know that potential solutions to many of those challenges lie in expanded defense cooperation between our nations,” Panetta said.

Compiled from AFP and AA stories by the Daily News staff.