Top commander says US stands by Turkey in fight against terrorism
A top US military commander has expressed support for Turkey in the country's fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism.
"The US stands side-by-side Turkey in its fight against terrorism. We will continue to support Turkey on this issue and work more to help prevent the PKK's illegal activities in Europe," Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted by the Anatolia news agency as telling the 30th Conference of the American-Turkish Council (ATC) in Washington on Tuesday. Dempsey also said Turkey was a close strategic partner of the United States and a leading country on which the world will increasingly place its trust.
"We are proud to say that the Turkish people are a friend to us. And I have a strong belief in the saying ‘Tell me who your friends are, and I will tell you who you are'," he told the audience. Dempsey said that Turkey made invaluable security contributions during the Cold War, the Gulf War, the present conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in NATO's new missile radar system project. "Even during those hard times, Turkey's unbelievable rise and development sparkled. And now, the world needs more than ever the model Turkey has set and its responsible leadership," Dempsey said.
Addressing the same gathering on Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted Turkey's growing economic leadership in its region but said Turkey must do more to cement democratic gains and smooth prickly ties with neighbors such as Israel if it is to emerge as a guarantor of Middle Eastern stability.
"Turkey's economic leadership can be a powerful force for progress across the region," Clinton said.
The United States and Turkey have seen trade and diplomatic ties expand as NATO-member Turkey assumes a more prominent regional role. Ankara agreed in September to host an early-warning radar system to help spot missile threats coming from outside Europe, including from Iran.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's government also played an important role in the NATO-led alliance that helped Libyan rebels topple longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, and has been an outspoken critic of President Bashar al-Assad's bloody crackdown on protests in neighboring Syria.
But Turkey has also alarmed Washington with its sometimes brash muscle-flexing, which has seen its relations with fellow US ally Israel lurch into crisis. It also entered into a maritime spat with Greek Cyprus over gas drilling in the Mediterranean.