WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton convened a special meeting of State Department and National Security Council officials to discuss the United States' relations with Turkey in the backdrop of the Ankara-Jerusalem crisis and
following Turkey's decision to vote against tougher sanctions on
Iran in the Security Council.
The aim of the meeting was to reevaluate US policy towards Turkey. State officials stressed that the meeting was the first in a series of important discussions on the matter.
US senior officials are infuriated with Turkey over its Iran endorsement, a sentiment demonstrated by Republican senators' refusal to approve the appointment of designated US ambassador to Ankara, Frank Ricciardone. While the objection is based on character issues, the US administration is certain that a senate vote on the appointment will prompt a public debate on US-Turkey relations and raise opposition from both the democratic and republican ends of the political spectrum.
Republic Senator Sam Brownback has filed a motion to halt the appointment and according to one report is also preparing a paper for Clinton explaining his opposition. Many other senators may follow suit.
The official reasoning is that Ricciardone is the wrong man for the job under the current climate. The opposers claim that during his years in service in Turkey, Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq Ricciardone emerged as particularly sympathetic to the countries in which he was stationed and less eager to promote American democratic and human rights values.
Ricciardone's supporters regard him as a competent professional with 34 years of experience in foreign service. Nevertheless, his personal capabilities would not have been on the agenda had US-Turkey relations not been in such a serious crisis.