EUs Ashton lauds Turkish partnership

April 4, 2013 at 9:07 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, April 4 (UPI) -- Bilateral relations with Turkey are of "vital importance" to the European Union, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

Ashton met in Ankara with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. She said the quality of the discussion was "extremely high."

"This, for me as the representative for foreign policy of the European Union, is a demonstration of the vital importance of Turkey and of our work across the world and especially across the region," she said in a statement. "I'm committed to seeing Turkey progress in its relationship with the European Union."

Ashton last month praised developments in settling Kurdish issues in Turkey. Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, called on fighters to lay down their weapons and leave Turkish territory after a decades-long battle with Turkish forces.

The European Parliament passed a resolution in March stating that settling the Kurdish issue in Turkey could move the country closer to the European community.

Turkey's conflicts with Cyprus, the Kurdish issue and judicial reform have presented obstacles to its move to establish a closer relationship with the European Union.

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