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US & Turkey Discusse Iraq, Middle East, US Image

Hughes in Turkey Discusses Iraq, Middle East Peace, U.S. Image

Under secretary of state also thanks Turkey for support after Hurricane Katrina

By Jeffrey Thomas
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes continued her goodwill tour to key Muslim nations September 28, arriving in Ankara, Turkey, where she met with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and his under secretary, Ambassador Ali Tuygan.

In a press briefing after the meeting, Hughes thanked the government and people of Turkey for their outpouring of support after Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“The Embassy told me how people would come by the Embassy and bring envelopes with single bills or coins. It was just a true outpouring that demonstrated the great warmth and hospitality and generosity of the Turkish people to America in our hour of need. We are so, so very grateful for that,” Hughes said.

Turkey and America have common interests and common values, including a belief in democracy “and a respect for individual and human rights, and the rights of women,” she said.

Hughes said her discussions with the Turkish officials also covered issues such as America’s support for Turkey’s membership in the European Union, and both nations’ “strong commitment to fighting terror.”

“And I want to make it very clear that America absolutely condemns the PKK,” the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which the United States has officially designated a terrorist organization, Hughes said. “We know that the citizens of Turkey are suffering. Every week, Turks are being killed by PKK terrorists.”

“As our National Security Advisor Steve Hadley said, we are committed to doing more, to confronting this terror threat to the people of Turkey,” she said.

HUGHES RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS

As in her previous stops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Hughes responded to questions regarding the war in Iraq, U.S. policy on Palestinians, and the U.S. image overseas.

Concerning Iraq, Hughes said the United States faces “a public diplomacy challenge here in Turkey, as we do in different places throughout the world.”

“The way to overcome that is to for America to work in partnership, in consultation with the leadership here in Turkey,” she said. “And we want to work together to ensure that Iraq emerges as a unified and stable democracy.”

Ambassador Tuygan agreed on the need for “a deeper dialogue, a more structured dialogue.”

On Iraq, the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the spread of democracy, Tuygan said, “our views converge on all these matters. So I think the prospects for moving forward are very solid.”

Noting that President Bush is the first U.S. president to call publicly for the creation of a Palestinian state, Hughes said, “We want the people of Palestine to have a state of their own. We want children growing up in the Palestinian territories to be able to be educated, and to get good jobs, and to have a future that they can aspire to.”

In Iraq, the United States wants to see a stable, unified and democratic country emerge, just as many Turks and others in the region do, she said.

“In terms of Iran, we are working with the international community, which has concerns about Iran and about its pursuit of nuclear technology,” Hughes said.

“In terms of Syria, we are also working with the international community and Syria's neighbors to send a clear message that it is important that Syria -- and we are unequivocal about this, not just the United States of America but also Syria's neighbors and the international community -- that Syria needs to do more to close its borders and stop allowing insurgents to flow across its border.”

For information on U.S. policy in the region, see Middle East and North Africa.

Hughes also attended a book presentation at the Turkish Education Volunteers Foundation (TEVF) in Istanbul September 28, saying that the books were a way of showing the people of America's support.

A transcript of the under secretary’s remarks at the Turkish Foreign Ministry is available on the State Department Web site.

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