ANKARA, Turkey – The United States wants help from Turkey and other countries to "sustain the momentum" toward Middle East (search) peace, and incitement to anti-Jewish violence and sentiment must end, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) said Sunday.
She also sought to reassure Turkey that the Bush administration wants Iraq to remain whole and at peace with its neighbors.
"Israel deserves to live in peace in the Middle East and the Jewish people deserve the respect of their neighbors," Rice said following meetings with Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.
"We have been very clear that incitement cannot be ignored," Rice said, adding that Arab governments cannot consistently say they support peace while tolerating horrific characterizations of Jews in the media.
"We are looking at what we can do to sustain the momentum," toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Rice said before leaving Europe for Jerusalem Sunday. She goes to the West Bank the following day for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search) and newly elected Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (search).
Gul sought to play down both anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment in the region.
Now that "Israel and the Palestinians do have their own governments it will be possible," for other countries in the region to be more helpful in the peace process, Gul said.
Turkey is an important U.S. ally straddling Europe and the Middle East. Anti-U.S. sentiments have been strong in Turkey since the start of the war in neighboring Iraq.
Earlier, Rice said Israel and the Palestinians should control their own path to peace, with help from Middle East nations and others. The United States does not need to take a leading role now, Rice said Saturday.
"When our involvement needs to take on a different character, we will do precisely that," Rice said en route to Ankara, last stop on this leg of her European and Middle East trip.
Later in her first trip abroad as President Bush's new chief diplomat, Rice returns to Europe for stops in Italy, France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Some of the European stops pave the way for Bush's own European trip later this month.
Rice saw Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday.
Turks worry the war in Iraq could lead to the disintegration of the neighboring country and the creation of a Kurdish state in the northern areas. That could embolden Kurds in southeastern Turkey, where the Turkish army has been battling Kurdish rebels since 1984. The fight has left 37,000 dead.
"I'm here really in part to say to the Turks that we are fully committed, fully committed, to a unified Iraq," Rice said aboard the plane to Turkey. "We are making that message clear through all channels that we have in Iraq."
Relations between the United States and Turkey have been strained since Turkey's parliament in 2003 refused to host U.S. soldiers for the Iraq invasion, which most Turks strongly opposed.
The Middle East portion of Rice's trip gives her a chance to see each of the main players in what could be renewed negotiations for a Palestinian state.
Rice will not attend a Sharon-Abbas summit in Egypt next week.
"The United States wants very much for this to be a process that is the parties' process, that is owned by the parties," and their neighbors, Rice said.
The United States will offer assistance in a variety of ways, including trying "help the parties to develop the means by which they can talk and solve the kind of crises that are inevitably going to come up as we go along," she said.
Violence is a continuing problem.
"We know the rejectionists and the terrorists are going to continue to try to make statements, sometime violent statements, that they are unreconciled," to peace, she said.