President Bush hailed Turkey's government today (Sunday) as a model of secular Muslim democracy in the turbulent Middle East.
Meeting in Ankara with (Turkish) Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of a (two-day) NATO summit in Istanbul, Mr. Bush said Turkey has set an example for its neighbors "on how to be a Muslim country, [and] at the same time a country which embraces democracy and rule of law and freedom."
Mr. Bush, who also met with (Turkish) President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, again urged the European Union to give Turkey a firm date for talks on its application to join the EU.
Turkey borders Iraq, Iran and Syria, and its government has been concerned about the extent of U.S. support for Kurds in northern Iraq (who have considerable autonomy in an area just across from Turkish territory.
Turkey has battled separatist uprisings in the past led by militants among its large Kurdish population.
Thousands of Turks have already begun protesting (today) against President Bush and U.S. policy in Iraq.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.