U.S., Turkey Launch New Trade, Investment Forum

December 10, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and NATO ally Turkey launched an initiative Monday aimed at boosting trade and investment ties, but said there were no plans for the two countries to negotiate a free trade agreement.

“We can … build on what is a good trade and commercial relationship and make it a much more robust one,’’ U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said at a press conference with Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan.

The initiative creates a new Cabinet-level forum to discuss ways to expand bilateral trade and investment flows and to try to resolve disputes when they arise, similar to one the United States has with China.

“This framework … will be an important vehicle for expanding trade and investment and creating new jobs for the workers and the people’’ of both countries, said U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

The announcement followed a White House meeting between President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to discuss Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. plans to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Obama told reporters he believed Turkey, a predominantly Muslim country and long-time U.S. ally, could be an “important player’’ in moving Iran toward resolving its dispute with the West over its nuclear program.

Erdogan said Turkey stands ready to do whatever it can to achieve a diplomatic solution on the nuclear issue.

Turkey, which has applied for membership of the European Union, is the United States’ fourth-largest trading partner in the Muslim world and 27th overall.

U.S-Turkey trade has dropped from a record of nearly $15 billion in 2008, but there is every reason to expect the two countries can surpass that “when the world economy gets back on its feet,’’ Locke said.

Babacan said the two countries would seek suggestions from business on how to increase trade in areas ranging from energy to agriculture to military equipment.
He downplayed the chances of Ankara using the forum to press Washington to reduce high U.S. tariffs that Turkey faces on textiles and some other exports.

Kirk said the initiative was not intended as a stepping stone to talks with Turkey on a free trade agreement. (Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Chris Wilson)

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Community News (V11-I26)

June 18, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Minnesota Somali Community Rallies to Support CAIR-MN

MINNEAPOLIS, MN–On Saturday, June 13, representatives of more than a dozen Twin Cities Somali civil, religious and political organizations held a rally demonstrating their support for Minnesota’s only Muslim civil rights organization, the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN).
Representatives from local Somali organizations voiced their support of the work CAIR-MN has done in the Somali community and addressed the importance of civil rights education for all Americans. The coalition gathered to represent the collective voice of the Twin Cities Somali population, estimated to be between 70,000 and 80,000.

“CAIR has been the only organization to come into the Muslim community, the Somali community, to help them understand their civil rights,” said Somali Community Link Radio Host Zuhur Ahmed. “They’ve been here educating us about our rights as Americans since long before any men left for Somalia.” Ahmed added that, in addition to know your rights trainings, CAIR-MN has been promoting cooperation with law enforcement.

The group also stressed that Somalis are not represented by one or two media-seeking individuals who refer to themselves as activists.

“We’re here from dozens of active organizations working with the people on the issues important to Somalis,” said United Somali Movement Vice President Aman Obsiye. “We represent the true voice of the tens of thousands of Somalis living in the Twin Cities.”

Prosecutor sues over alleged discrimination

YOUNGSTOWN, OH–An assistant in the Youngstown City Prosecutor’s office claims he’s being discriminated against — and now he’s taking the city to court.

Attorney Bassil Ally claims he was denied the ability to attend weekly Friday prayers as required by his faith — and when he complained about it the Ohio Civil Rights Commission he was harassed.

In documents filed in federal court in Cleveland this week, lawyers claim Ally has been ostracized by co-workers — creating an intimidating work environment and fostering what’s described as “an atmosphere of harassment and retaliation.”

Groundbreaking ceremony held for Islamic school

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ– The Islamic Society of Central Jersey (ISCJ) broke ground for the construction of a new school building with hundreds of area residents and officials present. The Noor-ul-Iman school currently serves about 500 full time and another 500 weekend students.

The first phase of the projects is expected to take two years to finish. Foundation will be be laid and the parking lot is going to be expanded from 194 to 650 spaces.

The group earned approvals for the entire project and the school is going to be constructed as an 86,000-square-foot facility during the second phase.

Top Cleveland neurosurgeon gets coveted job at OSU

CLEVELAND, OH– Dr. Ali Rezai, Cleveland area’s top neurosurgeon, is all set to joining Ohio State University Medical Center later this year. He will be named the vice chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery with a pay package of $600,000 per year.

Dr. Rezai holds seven patents and has helped launch three life sciences companies. His strength is in deep brain simulation.

He is presently working for the Cleveland Clinic.

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