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Obama underlines U.S.-Turkish cooperation on Iraqi stability, anti-terrorism, Mideast peace
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14:41, April 07, 2009

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Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama stressed on Monday the U.S. readiness to work with Turkey to secure Iraq's stability, fight terrorism and push for Middle East peace process.

"Both Turkey and the United States support a secure and united Iraq that does not serve as a safe-haven for terrorists," Obama said when addressing the Turkish parliament on his first state visit to the Muslim country, the last leg of his maiden European trip.

Admitting that the U.S.-led Iraqi war was controversial, Obama said it is time to come together to "end this war responsibly."

He said the U.S. troops in Iraq will withdraw by the end of August next year, adding that the United States "will work with Iraq, Turkey, and all of Iraq's neighbors to forge a new dialogue that reconciles differences and advances our common security."

Obama termed terrorism as a common threat to Iraq, Turkey and the United States, saying there is no excuse for terror against any nation.

He pledged to provide continued support to Turkey against the terrorist activities of the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK),adding his hope for increasing cooperation between Turkey, the Iraqi government and Iraq's Kurdish leaders, and more Turkish efforts to promote education and opportunity for Turkey's Kurds.

Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama (R) and Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan attend a reception in Istanbul, Turkey, April 6, 2009. Obama arrived in Turkey's capital of Ankara on Sunday evening for his first state visit to a Muslim nation

The PKK took up arms in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey. Some 40,000 people have been killed in the over-two-decade conflict.

Obama stressed the U.S.-Turkish common goal to deny al-Qaida a safe-haven in Pakistan or Afghanistan, committing more focused effort to "disrupt, dismantle, and defeat" al-Qaida and increasing efforts to strengthen Afghanistan's self-reliance for security.

He also hailed Turkey's joint role to help push forward the Middle East peace, saying Turkey, "a friend and partner in Israel's quest for security," also seeks a statehood for the Palestinians, and has supported negotiations between Syria and Israel.

Visiting U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L), Turkish Prime Minister Recap Tayyip Erdogan (1st L), Turkish President Abdullah Gul (2nd R) and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (1st R) have photos taken with Turkish actresses in Istanbul, Turkey, April 6, 2009. Obama arrived in Turkey's capital of Ankara on Sunday evening for his first state visit to a Muslim nation

He emphasized U.S. support for the two-state solution. "Let me be clear: the United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security," he said, adding this is a goal he will actively pursue during his presidency.

Obama's visit to Turkey, early in his term, was seen as a move to mend bilateral ties once cooled due to Turkey's opposition to the Iraqi war and refusal to U.S. forces' attack from Turkish soil in 2003.

At the beginning of his speech at the Turkish parliament, Obama has affirmed his intention to come to Ankara to send a message of U.S. value of its key Muslim ally.

"Turkey is a critical ally. Turkey is an important part of Europe. Turkey and the United States must stand together and work together to overcome the challenges of our time," he said.

He reiterated U.S. firm support for Turkey's membership bid to the European Union, and voiced U.S. need of Turkey in regional issues.

Obama also chose Ankara to send his message of reaching out to the Islamic world, saying "the United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam."


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