After denials from Washington, Ankara is also denying reports that US President Barack Obama personally warned the Turkish prime minister that the US would no longer sell his country weapons unless it changed its approach towards Israel and Iran.
Turkish paper Zaman reported on Wednesday that officials in Ankara angrily denied the report that was first published in the British Financial Times earlier this week. "No country can warn Turkey," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, "No one can display such a stance towards the Turkish prime minister."
The Financial times cited an American source as saying that during a meeting between Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Toronto in June, the US president said Ankara's recent actions, including a vote against sanctions on Iran, could make it difficult for the administration to approve the sale of weapons to Turkey in congress.
Erdogan (L) and Obama (Archive photo: Reuters)
However, the Turkish foreign minister insisted that the meeting in Canada was "a friendly gathering that was held in accordance with the relations between two ally countries". Speaking during a tour of southeast Turkey, he added, "Therefore, such a warning is not in question and such news stories do not reflect the reality."
Uneasiness in Washington
Turkish President Abdullah Gul also denied the report this week and said, "There are no problems in ties with the US." According to Gul, "The Turkey that some had grown accustomed to no longer exists. Instead, there is a Turkey that plays a central role in many processes. There are those who are confused by this."
The Turkish government claims that ties with the US are good, and note the cooperation in stabilizing Afghanistan and preparing for the withdrawal from Iraq. But there are also those who claim the US administration is not pleased with the image of trouble-free ties between the two countries, and would like to expose the fact that Washington is uneasy about Turkey's approach towards Israel and Iran.
The White House denied the report on Monday. "There is no ultimatum," said White House Spokesman Dan Burton, adding he had no idea where this speculation came from. The spokesman said Erdogan and Obama spoke several days prior to the report, and discussed Iran, the flotilla to Gaza and other related issues. He stressed that dialogue with Turkey was ongoing, but that no ultimatum was given.
On that some day the Turkish Prime Minister claimed ties with the US were at a historic high point. "There may be difficulties in weapons trade," he admitted, but noted that "such matters are internal in every country." Erdogan stressed that Turkey today is capable of manufacturing many weapons on its own.
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