U.S. President Barack Obama has called Turkey a "resolute ally" that
can help bridge the divide between Muslim nations and the West.
In his address to the Turkish parliament Monday, Mr. Obama said the
predominantly Muslim country is not where East and West divide, it is
where they come together.
He expressed strong support for Turkey's bid to become a European Union member, calling Ankara a "responsible partner."
The war in Iraq has strained relations between the NATO allies in
recent years. Washington is looking for Turkish help as it expands its
campaign in Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama said terrorism threatens both the United States and Turkey,
and that they must work together to tackle extremism, weapons
proliferation and the economic crisis.
He later traveled to Istanbul, where he was to meet Prime Minister
Recep Tayyip Erdogan and join a U.N.-backed conference on bridging
Earlier Monday, he pledged support for Turkey's fight against PKK
Kurdish militants, and he applauded Ankara's efforts to lift bans on
teaching and broadcasting Kurdish.
At a news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Mr. Obama addressed Turkey's long-contentious relations with Armenia.
Asked if he had changed his view that the killing of Armenians by
Ottoman Turks early last century was genocide -- a charge Ankara
rejects -- Mr. Obama replied that he had not. But he added that
Washington should not interfere in any negotiations between Turkey and
Armenia on that issue.
President Gul said the matter is a historical issue, not a legal one,
but that Turkey would welcome an investigation into the question, and
that he would accept the findings.
Mr. Obama also said the U.S. supports a resolution of the status of Cyprus, which is divided between ethnic Turks and Greeks.
Turkey is the final stop on Mr. Obama's European tour, which included
an economic summit in London last week, NATO meetings in France and
Germany, and an EU-U.S. summit in the Czech Republic.