U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Resigns

The U.S. ambassador to Turkey (search) has resigned, a U.S. official said Friday, after only a year and a half on the job.

Eric Edelman's (search) resignation comes amid tensions between Turkey and the United States over Iraq. During a trip earlier this year to Turkey, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search) reportedly instructed Edelman to do more to calm anti-Americanism in the Turkish press.

Edelman sent a letter to U.S. President George W. Bush last Friday saying that he planned to leave the Foreign Service, the official said. Edelman, who has been discussing the possibility of leaving the U.S. Foreign Service for some time, told Embassy staff this Friday that he would leave by the end of June for personal reasons, the official said.

The official added that the decision to leave was not related to Turkish-U.S. relations.

Many Turks are deeply suspicious over U.S. intentions in northern Iraq, where Kurds control an autonomous area. Turkey fears that Iraqi Kurds could push for independence, which could inspire Kurds in Turkey. Kurdish rebels have been battling the Turkish army since 1984, a fight that has left some 37,000 dead.

In some newspapers Edelman has served as a lightening rod for the criticisms and one Turkish web site claims to have collected 5,000 signatures calling for him to be expelled from the country.

Edelman arrived in Turkey in August 2003, when relations were also tense.

In March 2003, Turkey snubbed a U.S.-request to host troops in the country to invade neighboring Iraq. Relations were further strained when the U.S. military detained a team of Turkish special forces in northern Iraq in July 2003 that were reportedly plotting to assassinate a Kurdish official in the ethnically divided city of Kirkuk.

Before his posting in Turkey, Edelman served as a national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, and before that was ambassador to Finland. He also served with the State Department in Prague and Moscow.