U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will journey to Turkey this week to discuss two crucial regional issues – the unending violence in Syria and Iran’s nuclear program.
“On June 7, the secretary will co-chair the Global Counterterrorism Forum Ministerial in Istanbul, Turkey, and consult with senior Turkish officials on a range of foreign policy challenges, including Syria and Iran,” State Department spokewoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement on Friday.
The recent massacre of civilians in the Syrian town of Houla will likely take center-stage at the summit.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has repeatedly condemned the brutal crackdown and atrocities committed by the Damascus regime. He has called for Assad to end the violence against his people and has given Syrian refugees and opposition groups shelter in Turkey.
As for Iran, Erdogan has asserted that Tehran has the right to develop atomic power for purely peaceful purposes and has advocated a negotiated settlement on the issue.
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Turkey, a growing economic powerhouse, has become an increasingly important Middle East power-broker, with Erdogan taking an assertive presence in world affairs. He has been embraced by many Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia as a visionary global statesman.
The Turks, partially owing to their geographical position, serve as an important bridge between east and west on a range of issues.
Turkey forms only one part of Clinton’s week-long itinerary – she will also visit Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan during her May 31-June 7 tour.
Clinton met with Erdogan in early April prior to a round of international talks with Iran over its nuclear program. At that time, Washington was disappointed that Erdogan did not take a harsher stand against Iran.