I have now spent a week traveling through Europe. And I’ve been asked,are you trying to make a statement by ending this weeklong trip in Turkey? And the answer is, yes, I am trying to make a statement. I’m trying to make a statement about the importance of Turkey not just to the United States but to the world. This is a country that has been often said lies at the crossroads between East and West. It’s a country that possesses an extraordinarily rich heritage, but also represents a blend of those ancient traditions with a modern nation state that respects democracy, respects rule of law and is striving towards a modern economy.
It is a member of NATO and it is also a majority Muslim nation, unique in that position, and so, as a consequence, has insights into a whole host of regional and strategic challenges that we may face. And I’ve been extraordinarily impressed with President Gul and the quality of his leadership, as well as Prime Minister Erdogan, and so, as a consequence, I’m excited about the prospects of us working together.
As the President noted, we had a wide-ranging conversation. We thanked Turkey for its outstanding work in Afghanistan, and we discussed our strategic review. We have a similar perspective in terms of how to move forward, and Turkey’s contributions to ISAF and the overarching effort is going to be critical.
We discussed the progress that’s been made in Iraq and how we can continue to build on that progress as the U.S. begins to draw down its troops.
We talked about Middle East peace and how that can be achieved. And we discussed the need — a shared view for us to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation not just in the region, but around the world. And as President Gul noted, we also talked about business and commerce, because all too often the U.S.-Turkish relationship has been characterized just by military issues and yet there’s enormous possibilities for us to grow the economy and to make sure that trade between our countries and commerce and the lines of communication between our two countries continually strengthen, because we think that that’s going to be good for Turkey, but it’s also going to be good for the United States.
So we also discussed the issue of terrorism more broadly. And I reiterated my support to make sure that we are supporting Turkey in dealing with terrorist threats that may — they may experience.
So, overall it was an extremely productive meeting, and it gives me confidence that, moving forward, not only are we going to be able to improve our bilateral relations, but as we work together we’re going to be able to I think shape a set of strategies that can bridge the divide between the Muslim world and the West that can make us more prosperous and more secure.
And so I’m proud that the United States is a partner with Turkey, and we want to build on that partnership in the years to come.