The United States administration officially named former retired NATO commander Joseph W. Ralston as the U.S. Envoy to coordinate efforts to fight the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Â Zaman daily was the first Turkish paper to publish the news in its August 26 edition, three days before Ralston’s appointment was officially announced by U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
Â McCormack stressed the appointment underscores the U.S’. commitment to cooperate with Ankara and Bagdat (Baghdad) to eliminate terrorism, adding that Ralston will be responsible for cooperation among the U.S., Turkey, and Iraq to eliminate the terror network PKK as well as other terrorist organizations operating in northern Iraq and along the Turkish-Iraqi border.
Â McCormack informed Ralston will work in cooperation with the U.S. embassies in Ankara and Baghdad, the U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command and U.S. forces in Iraq.
Â Air Force General Ralston, described as having unique qualifications for this post by McCormack, was named NATO supreme allied commander in Europe following his tenure as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and retired in 2003.
Â Ralston withdrew his name for U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff nomination in 1997 when it became known that he had an adulterous affair with a CIA employee.
Â Then Defense Secretary William Cohen stood by Ralston despite the scandal, and appointed him vice chairman of the consulting company Cohen Group after his retirement.
Â The Cohen Group released a statement on Monday regarding the appointment and quoted Ralston saying he was honored to have been chosen for the post.
Â The group’s chairman, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, expressed his pleasure over the appointment and described it as significant for the U.S., Turkey, Iraq and the entire region.
Â Gen. Ralston had also attended the award ceremony in which the U.S.-based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs awarded retired Turkish General Cevik Bir in Oct. 1999