Davutoğlu, Kerry increase frequency of 'phone diplomacy'
US Secretary of State John Kerry is seen giving a press conference with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in Ankara on March, 1. (Photo: Cihan)
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held three phone conversations with US Secretary of State John Kerry in four days, discussing recent developments in the region, particularly Syria.
During the phone calls, which came upon Kerry's request, the US secretary of state told the Turkish foreign minister about his observations during his visit to Middle Eastern countries earlier this month, according to diplomatic sources. Thursday's telephone conversation came as a continuation of one on Wednesday, as Kerry and Davutoğlu could not complete the first phone conversation due to their busy schedules.
The two ministers also evaluated recent developments in the region, including the peace process in Syria and other Middle East countries. The sources said Kerry and Davutoğlu decided to meet in the shortest time possible and continue their interaction. Davutoğlu interrupted his speech at his party's headquarters in the southern province of Mersin to answer Kerry's call on Saturday, the Turkish media reported. Davutoğlu later told listeners that he discussed regional issues with the US secretary of state.
Ahead of Kerry's Middle East tour, including a visit to Turkey, the Obama administration announced for the first time that it had decided to provide non-lethal aid directly to Syrian rebels who are battling against Syrian regime forces and an additional $60 million in assistance to Syria's political opposition. Recently, France and Britain urged their EU peers to lift an embargo on supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition. However, European Union governments last Friday rejected Franco-British efforts to lift the EU arms embargo to allow weapons supplies to Syrian rebels, saying this could spark an arms race and worsen regional instability.
Phone conversations between Kerry and Davutoğlu also came ahead of US President Barack Obama's visit to Israel starting on Wednesday. The Israeli media reported last week that Obama is scheduled to demand that Israel and Turkey repair their ties. Israeli diplomatic sources said that Obama desires the two former allies make amends, as the current rift is proving an obstacle for US policies in Iran and Syria, according to a news report on the Times of Israel news site.
Turkish-Israeli relations have been in a state of crisis since Israeli commandos killed eight Turks and a Turkish-American in May 2010 during a raid on an aid ship bound for Gaza. Turkey says relations between the two countries will only return to normal if Israel offers a formal apology for the killings and pays compensation to the families of the victims. Israel has only expressed regret, saying that its soldiers acted in self-defense. Months-long diplomatic efforts to mend relations have failed to produce an agreement.