US says Ricciardone’s appointment evidence of Turkey’s importance

January 22, 2011, Saturday/ 17:04:00

The US State Department spokesman has said the appointment of Francis J. Ricciardone as ambassador to Turkey is a reflection of the importance that the US attaches to its relationship with Turkey.

Philip J. Crowley, speaking at the Foreign Press Center on Thursday, said the US is encouraged by the arrival of one of its most experienced and outstanding diplomats, Ricciardone, who is now the US ambassador to Turkey.

Ricciardone arrived in Ankara on Thursday and in his first remarks emphasized the friendship between Turkey and the US in Turkish. He began his career in the Foreign Service 32 years ago in Turkey.

“We had been supporting his nomination throughout the past year and regretted that the Senate did not take action on his nomination,” Crowley said. But, as a reflection of the importance of the relationship between the United States and Turkey, he added, that they did not feel that this was a post that could go without an ambassador for an indefinite period of time.

US President Barack Obama recently wielded his authority to make a recess appointment for Ricciardone, bypassing the Senate’s approval.

Crowley said his appointment is a reflection of the significance of the work that the US and Turkey do, both on a bilateral basis and in terms of the work that the two countries do cooperatively to try to solve challenges “whether it’s Iran on the one hand or Lebanon on the other hand.”

Stressing that he will be an excellent representative of the US, the spokesman said he is experienced and has been in this region before, having firsthand experience in Turkey. “And I expect he will fully engage the government, the opposition and, broadly speaking, Turkish society,” he noted.

Ricciardone on Thursday expressed his pleasure at being posted to Ankara and voiced the will to further improve bilateral relations between his country and its NATO ally.

“Turkey is a very important country both for its region and for the US. Each passing day, it is becoming a more important, heavyweight and influential country,” Ricciardone said at the airport.

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