Obama and Erdoğan in Washington

PM Erdoğan and President Obama at the White House

US President Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan spoke briefly yesterday after their private meeting at the White House in Washington, DC.  They made comments and took questions from the press.  The only mention of the Kurds came in the final question to Mr Obama.  Here’s the question and his response:

QUESTION: Mr. President, is there any new and concrete U.S. action plan for disarmament and the elimination of the PKK terror organization in northern Iraq? Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, what the Prime Minister and I have discussed is coordinating closely in dealing with the problem of the PKK. We have stated before and I have reaffirmed since I came into office that the United States considers PKK a terrorist organization, and that the threat that it poses not only in Turkey but also in Iraq is one that is of deep concern. And as NATO allies, we are bound to help each other defend our territories. More broadly, I think that it is important for us to have a consistent position with respect to terrorism wherever it takes place.

So we discussed how we can coordinate militarily. I will tell you that with respect to the issue of the PKK, I think that the steps that the Prime Minister has taken in being inclusive towards the Kurdish community in Turkey is very helpful, because one of the things we understand is, is that terrorism cannot just be dealt with militarily; there is also social and political components to it that have to be recognized.

With respect to Iraq, I think the degree to which the Kurdish population within Iraq feels effectively represented within the central government in Baghdad, to the extent that we can resolve some long-term pressing issues like Kirkuk, the more I think that Kurds will recognize that their interests are not in supporting any kind of military activity but rather in working through conflicts politically, in a way that allows everybody to be prosperous. And that’s the kind of process that we would encourage.

Okay? Thank you very much, everybody. Happy holidays.

END

On Sunday on his way to Washington Erdoğan told reporters that he was going to ‘follow up on’ US promises to fight their ‘common enemy’, the PKK.  It seems Mr Obama is keen to cooperate; Washington will continue its same stale policies in the region.

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