Obama and Gul in Ankara, Turkey

Q A question to both Presidents, both leaders. Mr. Obama, during the Bush presidency there were some difficulties in Turkish-American relations, and certain steps were taken to resolve those difficulties. We are in the third month of your presidency and there is a high expectation in the Turkish public opinion, as well, about Turkish-American relations. So what will be changes in your outlook on Turkish-American relations as opposed to the previous administration?

Another question to both Presidents. You said that you discussed fighting against terrorism. There’s, again, a lot of expectation in the Turkish public opinion regarding the elimination of the PKK. What sort of concrete steps will we see in that regard?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: As I mentioned at the outset, I think despite some of the problems that we saw, beginning in 2003, that you have seen steady improvement between U.S.-Turkish relations. I don’t think they ever deteriorated so far that we ceased to be friends and allies. And what I hope to do is to build on what is already a strong foundation. As I indicated earlier, commercial ties can be improved. That’s an area where I think the President and I share a vision.

I think when it comes to our cooperation on terrorism, I’ve been very clear that PKK is on our terrorist watch list. As a NATO ally of Turkey’s, we are very comfortable with providing them the assistance they need to reduce the threat. We have seen that cooperation bear fruit over the last several months, over the last year. You’ve seen a lessening of the attacks that have been taking place. We’ll continue to provide that support, and President Gul and I discussed how we can provide additional support on that front. But we have been very clear that terrorism is not acceptable in any circumstances.

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