The U.S. defense secretary said Tuesday that both Turkey and the United States needlessly damage their relations by sniping at each other and said they should stop it.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates mentioned no concrete examples but clearly referred to a resolution pending in the U.S. Congress that would accuse Turkey's predecessor state of committing genocide against its Armenian neighbors a century ago.
"Our two nations should oppose measures and rhetoric that needlessly and destructively antagonize each other," Gates said in a speech to the American Turkish Council, a business group that promotes U.S.-Turkish relations.
Gates continued: "That includes symbolic resolutions by the United States Congress as well as the type of anti-American and extremist rhetoric that sometimes finds a home in Turkish political discourse."
Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent joint identical letters two weeks ago to House leader Nancy Pelosi and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Tom Lantos, both Democrats, and the leader of the Republican minority, John Boehner, that said passage of the resolution would put U.S. security at risk.