The US Secretary of State has wrapped up her tour of Europe and the Middle East with talks with her Turkish counterpart in Ankara.
Hillary Clinton praised Ali Babacan for Ankara’s mediation between Israel and Syria and said constructive talks are underway between US and Syrian officials in Damascus. “With regard to the Syria-Israeli peace track, I offered my appreciation to the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister for the leadership role that Turkey has played in bringing Syria and Israel together,” she said. Clinton also said that President Obama will visit Turkey next month, as the two countries are due to consult on the safest and most effective way of withdrawing US troops from Iraq. Turkey is seen as a keen ally in resolving many US foreign policy problems, including relations with neighbouring Syria. But today’s visit of senior State Department figures to Damascus, the highest level talks since 2005, is a diplomatic testing of the waters. The Assistant Secretary of State, Jeffrey Feltman, described his meeting with Syria’s Foreign Minister Waldi al-Moallem, as very constructive. Ties between the two countries deteriorated after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister, Rafik al-Hariri.