GUL TAKES ENERGY AGENDA TO WASHINGTON

Turkish Daily News, Turkey
Jan 7 2008

>From Turkey's perspective the focus of talks in the US will be
Turkish-American cooperation and 'robust partnership in a challenging
environment' given that presidential visits aim at a common perspective
toward the future rather than solving current problems, according to
Turkish diplomatic sources

Abdullah Gul yesterday embarked on his first trip to the United States
since becoming president in August and a major issue that will figure
in his Washington talks will be energy.

Gul's visit to the United States comes after talks in energy-rich
Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Turkey has taken a closer
step toward becoming an East-West energy hub by undertaking such
major projects as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the
Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline that has now extended
to Greece and will later be interconnected to Italy.Despite this,
Turkey is not yet a transport corridor of energy in a real sense.

"It is always said Turkey is an energy terminal but if we don't
take care, we can be bypassed," Gul warned last week. "Therefore,
we should keep these (energy) issues alive and of course we need the
support of big countries to realize giant energy projects."

His remarks clearly showed the energy issue will be one of the
most significant issues to appear on the agenda of talks with
U.S. officials. Gul, accompanied by Energy Minister Hilmi Guler,
is expected to seek Washington's support for Turkey to take a second
step on the path to becoming a full-fledged energy corridor.

Professor Ahmet Davutoðlu, chief foreign policy advisor to the
Turkish president, told CNN-Turk last week that Turkey will be at the
cross-roads of the East-West and North-South energy corridors in the
upcoming period.

Undoubtedly, energy will not be the only topic of the high-level
meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush set for Tuesday. Turkey
and the United States will have the opportunity to discuss a series of
issues including Iraq, the Middle East, terrorism, a pending Armenian
genocide bill, Iran's disputed nuclear program, the latest developments
in Pakistan and the Caucasus.

Despite the fact that Gul's visit comes shortly after Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdoðan's meeting with Bush in November when a significant
step was taken in the fight against terrorism with Washington starting
to supply Ankara with real-time intelligence to combat outlawed
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists based in northern Iraq, Gul's
visit marks the first presidential visit since 1996 when the ninth
President Suleyman Demirel paid a visit to the United States. Before
that, late President Turgut Ozal visited Washington in 1992.

Bush will welcome Gul at the White House shortly before leaving for
the Middle East, considered a chance for highest-level consultations as
Bush is seeking to revitalize peace talks between Israel and Palestine,
according to Turkish diplomats.

In Washington, Gul will also meet Vice President Dick Cheney,
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates. The president will attend a meeting of the Turkish-American
Business Council and will meet leaders of the business world as well
as media representatives. In New York, Gul will hold talks with U.N.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at a dinner. He will lecture at the
American Foreign Policy Council about Turkish-U.S. relations and meet
leaders of Jewish organizations and Meskhetian Turks.

>From Turkey's perspective the focus of the meetings in the United
States will be Turkish-American cooperation and a "robust partnership
in a challenging environment" given that presidential visits aim at
a common perspective toward the future rather than solving current
problems, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.

The objective is to create new momentum and a spirit of cooperation
and spread bilateral ties to all areas, added the same sources and
stressed that the two sides have the political will to do so and that
Bush's invitation to Gul is a clear indicator in that respect.

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