Barack Obama has been rounding off his first world tour as US President with a visit to Turkey, stressing the importance of the country, not only to America, but to the world. He paid tribute to modern Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at his mausoleum in Ankara before talks with President Abdullah Gul.
It was Obama’s first trip to a predominantly Muslim country as president, albeit a nation with a secular constitution. He said Turkey is in a unique position that gives it insights into a host of regional and strategic challenges. “It was an extremely productive meeting and it gives me confidence that moving forward we are not only able to improve bilateral relations, but as we work together, we are going to be able to shape a set of strategies that can bridge the divide between the Muslim world and the West,” he said. Obama also expressed optimism about the possibility of renewed diplomatic ties between Turkey and Armenia. President Gul said: “We did not really have relations with Armenia, and as Mr President just said, we started discussions to bring that about. We would like to see these talks end fruitfully.” But there were vociferous anti-American protests on the streets of the capital Ankara, and the biggest city Istanbul. There is still deep public anger over America’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan.