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Terrorists Will Not Drive Wedge Between U.S.-Turkey

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2003 – Terrorist attacks in Istanbul will not drive a wedge between the United States and Turkey, but will draw them closer together, said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz today.

Attacks against Jewish temples in Istanbul on Nov. 15 and against the British Consulate and a British bank today, killed at least 45 people and wounded at least 700. Turkish officials said al Qaeda took credit for the Nov. 15 attacks.

Wolfowitz and the Turkish Deputy Chief of Defense Gen. Ilker Basbug talked on the terrorist attacks in Istanbul following meetings in the Pentagon.

The deputy secretary said that the terrorists are not going to succeed at splitting the United States from Turkey. "This kind of horrible act brings all decent people closer," he said. "It has brought Turkish Muslims and Turkish Jews closer together and it brings Turkey and the United States -- and, for that matter the United Kingdom and the entire civilized world closer."

Turkish ambassador to the United States, Osman Faruk Logoglu, said that even if terrorists were striving to separate Turkey, "it is not going to happen. There is not going to be any split between Washington and its allies certainly not between Washington and Turkey."

Wolfowitz said Turkey is a critical ally of the United States in a very important region. Turkey has offered troop support to help in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is Muslim-majority nation that is also a secular democracy. In the past, U.S. officials have said Turkey should be a model for other nations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Wolfowitz expressed his sorrow over the deaths in the attacks. He quoted President Bush, saying the terrorists "hate freedom, hate free nations."

Turkish-American relations are deep-rooted, Basbug said, and meetings were held to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Turkish militaries.

Wolfowitz said no one can stop all terrorist attacks. "As Americans, we know from Oklahoma City that it only takes two criminal minds to kill 150 people with a truck bomb," he said. "We're dealing with relatively small numbers of people who can do enormous damage if they are bent on murder."

The deputy said that when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld referred to a long, hard slog in the war on terrorism, he meant that despite many victories al Qaeda is still there. He said that is why the correct U.S. policy is to take the fight to the terrorists. "What is impressive to me is how many attacks have not happened, how many things we've been able to prevent," he said.

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