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Tuesday, November 16, 1999 Published at 19:34 GMT


World: Europe

Clinton stresses dialogue and human rights

President Demirel gave President Clinton a ceremonial welcome

US President Bill Clinton has laid emphasis on regional co-operation and human rights during political talks with Turkish leaders.

His visit, timed to coincide with the summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has been overshadowed by last Friday's earthquake.

But President Clinton has used the disaster to highlight the effectiveness of co-operation.

Taking his cue from mutual Turkish and Greek support when both countries were hit by earthquakes earlier in the year, President Clinton praised the triumph over the historical enmity between the two countries.


[ image: A Greek cartoonist portrayed Clinton as a Roman emperor arriving in the region on
A Greek cartoonist portrayed Clinton as a Roman emperor arriving in the region on "Air Horse One"
"Every person who lost a loved one or a home to those earthquakes knows that there was no such thing as a Turkish or a Greek tragedy," President Clinton said.

"They were human tragedies, and the world will never forget the humanity each nation displayed toward the other."

In an address to the Turkish parliament and in appearances with Turkish President, Suleyman Demirel, President Clinton promoted reconciliation between Turkey and Greece, particularly in their dispute over the divided island of Cyprus.

Nudged by the United States, the Greek and Turkish leaders of Cyprus will hold talks in New York beginning on 3 December.

President Clinton told US embassy employees in Ankara that he believed "ultimately there has to be a reconciliation between Turkey and Greece and a resolution of the major issues in the Aegean" to achieve long-term progress in the region.

Human rights

President Clinton has also urged greater democracy and respect for human rights in Turkey.


[ image: An anti-American demonstration was broken up by police]
An anti-American demonstration was broken up by police
"There has been impressive momentum in the last few years, and I hope there will be continued progress, especially in the area of freedom of expression," he told President Demirel.

Human rights groups have criticised Turkey for jailing Kurdish and Islamic activists for what they say or write.

"When writers and journalists freely express themselves, they exercise not only a fundamental right but fuel the exchange of ideals essential to prosperity and growth," President Clinton said.

President Demirel, asked at the news conference about torture in Turkey, reiterated his position that torture existed but that it was a crime and the government was trying to stamp it out.

A small anti-American protest in Ankara on Monday was quickly and roughly broken up by riot police.

Several people were arrested and television showed police wearing plastic body armour beating demonstrators.

Business links

President Clinton met Turkish business leaders to promote the growing $6bn trade relationship between the US and Turkey.


[ image: American loans will be used for rebuilding after the earthquakes]
American loans will be used for rebuilding after the earthquakes
He said the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which insures American investors overseas, will soon double its activity in Turkey to $1bn.

He had earlier announced that the US Export-Import Bank would make $1bn of loans available through 12 Turkish banks to help with post-earthquake recovery in the country.

President Clinton called that "powerful evidence of our confidence in Turkey's economy and our commitment to strengthen it".



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16 Nov 99 | Europe
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