Top US commander visits Turkey
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno met with Turkish Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel on Feb. 5 in Ankara, a written statement released by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has said Hurriyet Daily News reported.
Gen. Odierno also met his counterpart, Commander of the Turkish Land Forces Gen. Hulusi Akar, and traveled to İzmir to visit the NATO Land Component Command Headquarters, commanded by Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, according to a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Ankara, T.J. Grubisha, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News.
"Turkey is a trusted NATO ally of the United States and a critical partner in the region. We value and respect our Turkish allies," said Gen. Odierno, according to a press release by the embassy.
"This command is critical to ensuring we continue our relationships with our European allies and counterparts. Lt. Gen. Hodges and his staff are engaged in numerous exercises and discussions throughout NATO and Europe strengthening our commitment to peace and stability in the region," the U.S. commander said.
Gen. Odierno also participated in a wreath laying ceremony at Anıtkabir "to honor and pay respect to the founder of the Republic of Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces," the embassy spokesperson said.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has postponed a scheduled trip to Turkey late last month without clarifying the reason, but expressed his hope to visit Turkey soon. Hagel was expected to pay a visit to Turkey on Jan. 27 as part of his European tour.