After spending time in London, Strasbourg, Baden-Baden, and Prague for G20, NATO, and bilateral US-EU summits, President Obama extended his recent European tour by traveling to Ankara and Istanbul, his first venture into the predominantly Muslim world as US president.
Once again reflecting an interest in revitalizing America’s diplomatic ties, Mr. Obama visited the grave of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and met with both Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkey visit followed the President’s comments in Prague supporting the entry of Turkey into the European Union.
“The United States and Europe must approach Muslims as our friends, neighbors and partners in fighting injustice, intolerance and violence, forging a relationship based on mutual respect and mutual interest,” he said. “Moving forward towards Turkish membership in the EU would be an important signal of your commitment to this agenda and ensure that we continue to anchor Turkey firmly in Europe.”
Obama’s comments elicited tepid responses from his French and German hosts. For more information please see here and here.