USA to urge Turkish prime minister to reconsider his attitude toward Israel: AJC executive director

Politics Materials 4 December 2009 10:16 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, December 3 / Trend , U.Sadikhova /

U.S. will urge Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his official visit to Washington to reconsider his attitude toward Israel, said David Harris, Executive Director of American Jewish Committee (AJC).

"My belief is that the U.S. will urge the prime minister [of Turkey] to reconsider his sharp tone and seek to ensure continuity in the mutually beneficial ties that have linked Ankara and Jerusalem for years," Harris wrote to Trend in an e-mail.

On Dec. 7, Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit the United States. During his visit, Erdogan is expected to debate with the U.S. President Barack Obama the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenian-Turkish protocols. However, earlier media reported that Washington may also discuss with the Turkish leader the tensions between Ankara and Israeli government that emerged after the Israeli military actions in Gaza.

Although Israeli Industry and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer's visit was seen as a step towards restoring the level of trust between the countries, however, both countries have not yet taken concrete actions to do this.

According to Harris, it is in Washington's interests, as in Ankara's, to maintain the strong links between Turkey and Israel

"That link between the only two full-fledged democracies in the region has been a key factor in promoting stability and security in a critically important neighborhood," said Harris.

According to him there is much for the American and Turkish leaders to discuss.

"This bilateral relationship is extremely important to both sides. I assume the agenda will be especially full with issues related to Turkey's neighborhood," Harris said.

"Clearly, Iraq today is vitally important, and here Turkey has been a key and valued partner of the United States. Iran will be a significant topic of discussion, and some differences of views may emerge. Also, Syria may loom large. Again, there may be some divergent viewpoints. Turkey has moved faster than the U.S. to strengthen ties with Syria, including defense cooperation," Harris stressed.  

According to him, the U.S., while interested in engaging Damascus, remains suspicious of Syrian motives, including its continued involvement in Lebanon, and wants Syria to do more to stem the flow of fighters and weapons into Iraq.

Unlike relations with Israel, Ankara is actively developing relations with Syria and liquidated the visa regime between the countries. Moreover, Turkey has reiterated its readiness to mediate in talks between Israel and Syria, as it was last year. However, the conflicting sides have not been able to agree resuming negotiations.

"Prime Minister Erdogan's visit to Washington could not be more timely or important," the expert said.