US Ambassador Ricciardone meets with ruling AKP officials in Ankara

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U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone held a meeting with ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Head Mehmet Ali Şahin in Ankara on April 14.

Şahin hosted Ricciardone at the AKP’s headquarters and their meeting, which was closed to the press, lasted almost an hour.

The two discussed the latest developments in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Cyprus, Palestine, Israel, Ukraine, and Turkey-U.S. relations, according to reports.

“We both agreed on the importance of keeping Turkish-American relations at a high level. We did it on behalf of the interests of both Turkey and the U.S.,” Ricciardone told journalists after being asked whether the AKP’s rift with U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen was on the agenda during the meeting.

Ricciardone added that he and Şahin had discussed the recent draft bill approved by a U.S. Senate committee last week that recognized the 1915-16 killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide, stating that this conversation “went well.”

He also revealed that he had met with Yasin Aktay, who was recently appointed as the AKP’s deputy chairman responsible for foreign relations.

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