We call my home town Boston-bul: Kerry

We call my home town Boston-bul: Kerry

We call my home town Boston-bul: Kerry

Secretary of State John Kerry (R) applauds as Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, shake hands during a luncheon for the prime minister, May 16, at the State Department in Washington. AP photo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised Turkey's strategic role during a luncheon for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the State Department in Washington May 16. "Where the thorniest problems exist, we'll look towards Turkey," Kerry said, adding that the "vital partnership" with Turkey was grounded on human exchange, especially students.

"Turkey sends more students to American universities than any European country. In my hometown, Boston, there are so many Turkish students that we call it Boston-bul," Kerry said with a play on words. He also noted that Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's children as well as Erdoğan's have studied in the United States.

Kerry ended his speech by welcoming his guests in Turkish with the proverb "Dağ dağa kavuşmaz, insana insana kavuşur" (Mountains remain apart, but people do meet).

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also made a welcoming speech praising the hospitality showed by Erdoğan, who had received him in December 2012 before he had fully recovered from an operation. "I visited in Istanbul the prime minister, who had just returned home from hospital, and he surrounded me with his beautiful children and grandchildren. I say to my friends that you cannot understand real hospitality if you have not been invited by a Turkish family at home," Biden said, adding that he believed the alliance between the countries would only grow stronger.

"In our alliance, we can make a whole lot of places a whole lot better," he said.

The Turkish prime minister also said the countries had had a 170-year-long friendship. He also praised his interlocutors, especially Kerry's, several trips to Turkey in the last months. "Their youth increase our dynamism," he said.

Erdoğan is also expected to attend a working dinner with U.S. President Barack Obama late May 16.