UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Turkish President Abdullah Gul defended his country's business dealings with Iran and said Turkey is in a position to be a leader in the Muslim world.
"If you look at all the issues that are of importance to the world today, they have put Turkey in a rather more advantageous position," Gul told The New York Times Tuesday on the sidelines of the meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
Gul said Turkey is "the only country that can have a very important contribution to the diplomatic route" with Iran and proclaimed Turkey's goal of tripling its trade with the regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose nuclear ambitions are viewed with great suspicion by the United States and much of Europe.
"If the demand is for Turkey not to have any trade, any economic relations with Iran, it would be unfair to Turkey," Gul said, asserting that many U.S. and European companies circumvent U.N. sanctions by changing their names. "That is why the sanctions do not yield the results that are envisioned for them, in most cases.
"The perception here in the U.S. is that what Turkey is doing is in some way undermining U.S. policy. That is definitely not the case."