Tales from the Trail

First draft: If it’s Monday, it must be Turkey

April 6, 2009

President Barack Obama is on the final leg of his first European trip as president, traveling to Turkey for a two-day visit. On his first stop in a predominantly Muslim country, Obama sought to rebuild ties with Turkey – a country spanning Asia and Europe which the United States needs to help solve confrontations from Iran to Afghanistan.

OBAMA-TURKEY/He vowed to help Turkey resolve its differences with Armenia and said the United States was willing to provide further support against Kurdish separatist rebels based in northern Iraq.

In a nod to Turkey’s regional reach, economic power and diplomatic status Obama will spend the day in Ankara speaking to parlaiment and meeting with Turkish leaders before traveling to Istanbul in the evening.

At home, Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates was set to announce his spending proposals at a 1:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) news conference. Gates has been putting the final touches on a fiscal 2010 core defense budget request of $533.7 billion which doesn’t include war funding.

North Korea’s rocket launch over the weekend may be good news for Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and other big Pentagon contractors that face possible program cuts. In light of Pyongyang’s missile test, the backers of a fledgling U.S. anti-missile shield have been pressing Gates to rethink plans to trim spending on missile defense.BASEBALL/

The trip to Europe means Obama will miss the opening day of baseball for his beloved Chicago White Sox. Even though Monday’s opening day game against the Kansas City Royals was postponed due to forecasts of snow and high winds, the first fan won’t be back in the country in time for the game now scheduled for Tuesday.

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Photo credits:  REUTERS/Jim Young (Obama speaks at joint news conference with Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul in Ankara) ; REUTERS/Pool (Chicago White Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd throws in play off game in October 2008)

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The U.S. invaded Afghanistan unilaterally. There was no support from the EU. Now the administration is asking for EU assistance. We arrested and tortured detainees while holding them for years without any due process. The administration has now asked the EU to take some of these detainees. These were problems of our own making. We violated international law regarding Guantanamo and other prisons. We abandoned Afghanistan once the Soviets were defeated. That was our mistake too. We are responsible as a nation to clean up the mess’ we’ve made. I can see why even so eloquent a leader as our President has received such a cool response to his requests.

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