Turkey signs deals with US

Dec 22, 1997 01:00 AM

The Clinton administration has moved to tighten ties with Turkey securing deals to develop an oil pipeline in the Caspian region and to sell the Turks $ 2.5 billion worth of American-made airliners.
In an Oval Office meeting with President Clinton, Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz also backed away from threats to give up on membership in the European Union. He confirmed to Clinton that Turkish leaders have "not closed the door on those discussions despite having some disappointments,''
Yilmaz has blamed Germany for Turkey's exclusion from the economic alliance while Cyprus was welcomed for negotiations. The result, he said, may be the permanent partition of the Mediterranean island, the northern part of which Turkish troops invaded in 1974.
The Clinton administration has actively promoted EU membership for Turkey, a strategically located ally.
Yilmaz and Vice President Al Gore oversaw the signing of a $ 2.5 bn contract between Turkey and Boeing for the purchase of 49 Boeing737-800 commercial jetliners. Gore called it a "win-win outcome'' and profitable investment for both Turkey and the United Sates.
Yilmaz and Energy Secretary Federico Pena signed a joint agreement on energy cooperation, including the development of a pipeline to transport Caspian oil through southern Turkey.
Pena is to visit the region in 1998 to review the project's progress. U.S. officials hope the pipeline will be the start of a broader development of an East-West energy corridor from the oil-rich Caspian area.
And over lunch with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Yilmaz agreed to accept U.S. help on improving Turkey's human rights record. "The Turkish government is sincerely devoted to the goal of improving our democratic system and to human rights situation in the country,'' Yilmaz told.
At Albright's prodding, Yilmaz invited John Shattuck, the State Department's assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labour, to visit Turkey and consult with its officials on human rights. Yilmaz assured U.S. officials that promoting democratic reforms was one of the first priorities of his government.
When the European Union rejected Turkey's application for membership, it cited concerns about human rights violations, Turkey's 30,000 troops on Cyprus and its tense relations with Greece, an EU member.
Turkey is a member of NATO and conducts most of its trade with EU countries.

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