The following are translations of excerpts from the Turkish press.

PRESIDENT OBAMA CALLS TURKISH PM TO VOICE REGRET ON WIKILEAKS EXPOSURES

Obama called Turkey's prime minister to mend ties following the release on the WikiLeaks website of U.S. diplomatic cables containing negative comments about Turkish leadership.

U.S. President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday to voice his regrets over the "deplorable action" by WikiLeaks, saying the whistle-blowing website's recent disclosure of secret cables should not harm bilateral ties.

"The president expressed his regrets for the deplorable action by WikiLeaks and the two leaders agreed that it will not influence or disrupt the close cooperation between the United States and Turkey," the White House said in a written statement Saturday.

"The leaders discussed the enduring importance of the U.S.-Turkish partnership and affirmed their commitment to work together on a broad range of issues," said the White House.

The series of diplomatic messages released by WikiLeaks revealed a complex and difficult relationship between the United States and NATO ally Turkey, with U.S. diplomats casting doubts over Ankara's Western orientation.

Several Turkish officials, including Erdoğan, were angered by the WikiLeaks release of highly classified U.S. diplomatic correspondence. Obama's call to Erdoğan is seen as an effort to soothe Turkey.

Earlier this month Erdoğan accused U.S. diplomats of slander after leaked cables painted him as an authoritarian who hated Israel and led a government with Islamist influences.

The prime minister also denied that he had secret accounts in Swiss banks, as claimed by a U.S. diplomatic cable. "I do not have one penny in Swiss banks... If this is proven, I will not stay in my post," Erdoğan said.

He urged Washington "to call to account" its diplomats, also saying his aides were looking into ways of legal action against the cables' authors.

Turkish sources said Obama also thanked Erdoğan for sending firefighting helicopters to Israel in an effort to counter the country's worst forest fires in history. Turkey's move came during a nadir in ties with the eastern Mediterranean state.

Obama also telephoned Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and the two men "agreed [WikiLeaks'] irresponsible acts should not distract our two countries from our important cooperation," the White House said.

Obama and Calderon "reaffirmed their shared commitment to work together against transnational criminal organizations, to enhance border cooperation, and to improve the economic well-being of people in both countries," it said.

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/Haber/346269/1/Gundem

U.S. TAKES ACTION FOR TURKISH-ISRAELI PEACE

According to Haaretz newspaper, Ankara did not accept the apology text --which does not include an apology-- of Israel after its raid on Mavi Marmara aid ship. Then, the administration of Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu brought another text on the table. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will try to convince Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in New York this week.

http://haber.gazetevatan.com/ozure-erdogan-vetosu/346232/1/Gundem

NO APOLOGY, NO SOLUTION FROM ISRAEL

Haaretz newspaper wrote that Israel rejected to apologize after its raid on (Turkish aid ship) Mavi Marmara, and thus the talks were blocked. On the other hand, speaking to Jerusalem Post, an Israeli government official said that Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu was certainly against apologizing.

http://www.milliyet.com.tr/-turkiye-ile-israil-arasindaki-gorusmeler-tamamen-durdu-/dunya/haberdetay/13.12.2010/1325459/default.htm

TEXAS LAW

A draft adopted by the parliamentary sub-commission on December 6, has caused nationwide reaction. Under the draft, those who are above 18-years-old will be able to possess guns. The draft also enables people to carry up to five guns. Also, online weapon commercials will be allowed.

http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/16517549.asp?gid=373

BARZANI'S KDP IMPORTANT FOR IRAQ'S TIES WITH TURKEY'S KURDS, EXPERTS SAY…

The KDP in northern Iraq has gathered for its first congress since 1999 and is considering an internal transformation to go along with the changes throughout the country over the last decade. Experts say, however, KDP leader Barzani want to quiet the criticisms against his leadership style and to display his power in Iraq and the region

A congress called by Massoud Barzani's Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP, could prove to be crucial for transforming the party and influencing relations with Turkey's Kurdish parties, according to experts.

The gathering, which is part of a step toward internal transformation within the KDP, will affect the region and Turkey's Kurdish political parties in the long term, Bilgay Duman, a Middle East expert from the Center for Middle East Strategic Research, or ORSAM, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Sunday.

The KDP has advised Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, or BDP, over the last couple of years to continue struggling on the Kurdish issue democratically, Duman said. "The BDP admires this advice and they occasionally visit the region while also continuing a dialogue with the KDP."

The six-day congress in Arbil is hosting a number of foreign representatives, including ones from Turkey's Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and Republican People's Party, or CHP. The congress has drawn more than 1,000 delegates, who are set to elect 50 new members to the KDP's top leadership committee. The gathering is the first for the party in 13 years.

"The KDP is enhancing its area of influence. They have become a critical factor in Iraqi politics. Since Barzani is the main actor in the [Kurdish regional administration], his party has settled and taken root. Turkish political parties are also enhancing their ties with the KDP," Doğu Ergil, a professor of political sociology at Ankara University, told the Daily News.

The KDP has had a historical influence on the Kurds of Turkey, Ergil said, noting that many Kurds in Turkey had gone to fight in Iraq in the past to help the region attain its independence from Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

"There was always sympathy and cultural ties between the two Kurdish communities. And now they want to improve cultural and economic ties," he said, adding that Kurdish people in Turkey and northern Iraq want to enhance those ties without harming the political unity of either of the states. "This cooperation would contribute to the normalization of the Kurdish problem."

Kurdish politicians from Turkey and officials from the Turkish government have kept in close contact with Barzani, especially regarding the AKP's democratic initiative to solve the Kurdish problem. Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, co-chairs of Democratic Society Congress, an umbrella for Turkey's Kurdish movement, often exchange views with Iraqi Kurds.

As the KDP becomes stronger, this influence over the entire region is set to increase, Ergil said.

Barzani has been perceived as somewhat dictatorial both from within and outside the party, Duman said, but added that the congress was called by Barzani to address these concerns.

"In order to preclude criticism and to achieve transformation in the party, Barzani gathered this congress. I identify this move as a display of power," Duman said.

"There has been no change in the party until now, but there has been political transformation in Iraq," Duman said, adding that Barzani had to initiate the move in order to deal with the emerging Kurdish opposition in northern Iraq, as well as within his own party.

"There has been a transformation in northern Iraq since 1990 and the KDP began institutionalizing after 2003," Duman said.

While the present congress will not result in a complete transformation of the KDP, Duman said it was still an important first step and that more "liberalism and liberty" would emerge within the party as a result.

The gathering comes amid disputes between Arbil and Baghdad over the distribution of land and oil resources, as well as Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki's delicate effort to form a new Cabinet.

Against this backdrop, Barzani also called for the right to greater self-determination for the northern Iraqi region, a view that will reportedly be studied and discussed over the duration of the congress.

Meanwhile, the AKP's Abdülkadir Aksu attended the congress Saturday, delivering a speech saying Turkey considered Iraq's north as a gateway to Iraq and the Middle East. "And Turkey for you is a gateway that opens to Europe," Aksu said.

The AKP's Ömer Çelik told reporters he held a brief meeting with Barzani, adding that he would meet the Iraqi Kurdish leader again to launch projects to develop relations between the AKP and the KDP.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=after-13-years-prominent-kurdish-party-of-iraq-gathered-congeress-2010-12-12

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