Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday voiced Turkey's importance to his country and hailed its role as a bridge between the East and West.
"Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership between a Christian nation and a Muslim nation, a western nation and a nation that straddles two continents," said Obama at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul after their talks.
He described Turkey as crossroads between the East and West, and a NATO member with respect to democracy and with modern economy.
Obama said his talks with Gul was productive, which gave him great confidence in improving bilateral relations, which had been strained over the U.S.-led Iraqi war. "We need to build on the partnership in the future," he said.
The two leaders have discussed the progress in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East peace, nuclear nonproliferation and terrorism, according to Obama.
He said he was excited about the two sides' process of working together on these issues. He also noted that U.S.-Turkey economic and trade ties should be continuously strengthened, and the two countries should work together to address the global economic downturn.
Obama promised that the United States will continue to provide assistance with Turkey's fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Obama arrived in Ankara on Sunday evening for his first state visit to a Muslim nation.
The United States and Turkey, both NATO members, have been close allies for decades. However, the relationship was strained when Turkey refused U.S. troops' invasion into Iraq through its territories in March 2003. The Iraqi war was widely opposed in Turkey.
But bilateral ties have started to regain momentum as the two sides continue to share mutual interests on a wide spectrum of issues. The United States is seeking help over the Iraq and Afghanistan headaches from its allies, including Turkey which remained a logistic base for the U.S. troops stationed in the two countries.