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Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey

January 28, 2004

The President. It is my honor to welcome Prime Minister Erdogan to the Oval Office for the second time. I've been looking forward to this meeting because Turkey is a friend and an important ally of America. I have found that the Prime Minister is a person who is easy to talk to. He's a straightforward man, which makes it easy to be able to deal with common issues.

And we talked about Iraq, and I assured him the United States' ambition is for a peaceful country, a democratic Iraq that is territorially intact.

He briefed me on the Cyprus talks, and I appreciated his trying to find a solution— a solution to a long-standing dispute.

I appreciate the Prime Minister's steadfast determination to fight terror. Both of us understand what it means to have our fellow citizens destroyed by the merciless killing of terrorists. Both of us understand that we must stay on the offensive against terrorists and bring them to justice before they hurt innocent people.

Over lunch, we'll discuss other issues of importance. I'm really looking forward to going to Turkey later on this year. It's going to be an important meeting. Every one of my friends who has traveled to your country has come back with great stories of warm hospitality and magnificent sights.

So I'm proud to welcome our friend to the Oval Office.

Prime Minister Erdogan. First of all, I would like to thank you very much. It, indeed, made us very happy to learn that after listing PKK and KADEK in the list of terrorist organizations, the United States has decided to list KONGRA-GEL among terrorist organizations. We were very happy for that. We thank you.

It's very obvious where Turkey stands in the fight against terrorism—that needs to be mutual and international, especially in the aftermath of what happened on September 11th. We are in a common effort to fight terrorism, and we share the same views regarding our strategic partnership in restructuring Iraq.

I also share the same views in—in developing Middle East. And we spoke of the fact that we support the good will mission of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and we are willing to restart the negotiations, taking Annan's plan as a reference point.

I state once again that the Turkish side is determined for a solution. We will always be a step ahead of our Greek counterparts, and we're determined to solve this as soon as possible.

I thank you for your invitation, for your——

The President. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, Prime Minister Erdogan referred to Secretary-General Kofi Annan of the United Nations. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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