Kissinger sees growing leverage for Turkey

Turkey's is destined to assume a growing regional role, as America gradually makes its way out of the Middle East, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger has said.

Speaking at a conference in Istanbul on Wednesday, the veteran diplomat predicted Ankara will fill part of the vacuum created as the United States withdraws from Iraq and Afghanistan.

?Turkey?s influence is growing at a time that the US is withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan, plus Libya is opening up ? so Turkey can play a significant role,? Kissinger told the conference.

However, he warned, Turkey must be careful not to toe the line of Washington's interests in the region.

?It shouldn?t run across interests that the US considers imperative. I expect relations will be constructive,? he said.

America has watched with concern as NATO ally Turkey's once-friendly ties with Israel have deteriorated rapidly over Israel's 2010 killing of Turkish activists in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

On the other hand, Turkey recently agreed to station a US-made radar on its territory as part of a missile defense system to protect NATO allies from Iranian rockets.

?I see this as an expression of the fact that on some issues the US and Turkey have parallel interests,? Kissinger said.