1720 GMT: US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs José Fernandez has said that there is still room to expand the bilateral commercial ties even after a record 34 percent jump in bilateral trade volume last year. According to Fernandez:
The question is whether ties will be good or really good. Currently there are a number of areas where we cooperate very well, but now we’re thinking about how we can help expand and improve bilateral ties.
One of our chief projects has been helping İstanbul achieve its ambitions to become a major financial center. We’re getting them in touch with members of the Securities and Exchange Commission, showing them the regulations, so they can see how it works.
1640 GMT: Four members of PKK were killed by security forces in the district Idil of the eastern province of Sirnak after they had been spotted crossing the Turkish border from Syria.
1400 GMT: Murat Karayilan, the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council President -- or, in the eyes of the Government, a "terrorist" --- has given an interview to Turkish journalist, Avni Ozgurel. Here are some of the notable statements:
Both parties have the problem of incomprehension, problem of trust. This is the reality.
We are seeing the Kurdish problem as something needs to be solved through peaceful dialogue eventually. We have been showing efforts for a solution with dialogue and peaceful means since 1993. Before that, we started armed struggle, that is true. The atmosphere of 12 September [1980 coup] and Diyarbakir prison process... Actually those who got out of 12 September met in Lebanon and Syria. We made discussions. We all said that we would go back and struggle. Indeed, we formed a front against fascism. Then, we took it seriously. We were sincere to our given promise, to imprisoned comrades and to those comrades who lost their lives. While were ready to go back, we saw that those who were supposed to come with us starting showing various excuses. At the end of the day, we were alone. However, we came back! It was difficult. Returning meant death.
When we came to 90s, the world did undergo a geenral change and the Kurdish problem became apparent and was already on the agenda. At that time, armed struggle completed its mission. Since then, it is up to dialogue and a political solution.
With regards to the Oslo negotiations, Karayilan said that he was informed by every single step throughout the process and stated that it was "too close to a solution".
Meanwhile, in response to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent supportive remarks for Turkey's "anti-terror" policy, Karayilan said:
It is the Kurdish people who are subjected to the terror and pressure of Turkish police and state. Why doesn’t Mrs. Clinton see the Roboski massacre or the fact that 17.528 Kurdish people were victims of unidentified murders and at least 30.000 Kurds were killed in the process since the fight against PKK started.
1320 GMT: 25 years in prison has been demanded by a specially authorized prosecutor in Adana for a man who was born deaf and mute on charges of "making propaganda and exerting violence on behalf of a terrorist organization.
1200 GMT: Hüseyin Celik, a deputy chairman of the ruling AKP, has criticised opposition parties for their lack of support in the war against "terrorism":
The opposition has the opposition problem. They must get rid of this mentality that says "let my neighbour's house burns so that I can boil my egg".
Those who closes his eyes in the middle of daylight can bring night only to himself. Nothing stops existing when you say it does not exist. If that was true, we would ignore terror and it would disappear.
1045 GMT: Speaking at the Kabul Ministerial Conference of the İstanbul Process, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuglu has said:
We, Afghanistan’s immediate and extended regional partners, share a common history and future. Contributing to peace and stability in Afghanistan is also in our interest as well as our responsibility. The Istanbul Process aims to enhance regional cooperation in a result-oriented and practical framework. The Istanbul Process, we all initiated in last November, has three main aspects:
The first aspect is enhancing political dialogue among the region. The second aspect is the implementation of confidence building measures. The third aspect of the Istanbul Process is building synergy among regional organizations.
Turkey's commitment to Afghanistan is for the long term and we will always stand-by our Afghan brothers and sisters.
1000 GMT: Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD) chair Umit Boyner, in a notable speech, has challenged the Government for its statements on the planned abortion ban, saying that "such insulting statements taking rape as granted offend everyone".
In contrast, Boyner expressed her support for the recent meeting between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) as part of a solution to the Kurdish problem.