WASHINGTON (RFE/RL) — US President Barack Obama says he and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed that one of the most important issues the two NATO allies need to resolve is Iran’s nuclear program. The two leaders met at the White House on December 7 to discuss a variety of issues.
Obama said he indicated to Erdogan “how important it is to resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear capacity in a way that allows Iran to pursue peaceful nuclear energy. He said he believed that Turkey could be an important player in trying to move Iran in that direction.”
Erdogan said his country and the US have taken joint steps on a variety of regional issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, and he emphasized that he wants to ensure a diplomatic resolution to the problem.
Last month, Erdogan visited Tehran to sign gas and trade deals, and he hosted Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad — whom he called his “good friend” — at a summit of Muslim countries in Istanbul. Erdogan also has dismissed as “arrogant” UN sanctions against Iran for defying the world body by pressing forward with the nuclear program.
Obama praised Ankara for what he called its “outstanding” contribution to the NATO effort in Afghanistan. In November, Turkey took command of peacekeeping operations in Kabul. Some 1,700 non-combat troops are now serving there.
Armenia was also on the two leaders’ agenda. The country signed a historic deal with Turkey in October that could lead to the opening of their common border.
But Armenia is still locked in negotiations with Azerbaijan on resolving the status of Nagorno-Karabagh. Any problems with the Nagorno-Karabagh talks could interfere with normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey.