Petraeus takes the long way home from Afghanistan

Laura Rozen
The Envoy

Gen. David Petraeus, after turning over command of international forces in Afghanistan to his successor Gen. Jon Allen yesterday, has been making his way slowly back to Washington to take up leadership of the Central Intelligence Agency.

But Petraeus is making several stops en route home from Afghanistan.

Petraeus made a surprise overnight stop in Ankara yesterday for meetings with Turkish foreign ministry and military officials. He has now arrived in Germany, and will also stop in France and London before returning to Washington, a military officer traveling with Petraeus told The Envoy.

"We are on our way back to the States with stops in Ankara, Berlin, Paris and London. He was invited by these countries to stop on our way back," Col. Erik Gunhus said by email Tuesday in response to a query from The Envoy. In the visits, Petraeus "will update various leaders on [the] current situation in Afghanistan and to thank the countries and people for their important contributions to the coalition."

Another U.S. official described Petraeus's purpose in visiting Turkey as mainly to discuss Afghanistan and to thank Turkey for its contribution of 1,600 troops to the Afghanistan mission.

"David Petraeus came to express appreciation for [the Turkish] contribution to Afghanistan ... [which] is "really substantial," the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

The Turkish media has speculated  that another subject of discussion would be recent hostilities between the Turkish military and the Kurdish breakaway faction known as the PKK. And the official conceded that "no U.S. government visitor can come to Turkey without addressing the PKK," -- especially just a few days after the PKK reportedly killed 13 Turkish soldiers. Petraeus expressed condolences over the recent fatalities and U.S. solidarity with the government of Turkey in its struggle against the the PKK, just as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did on a visit to Turkey last weekend, he said.

In Turkey, Petraeus met with the Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner as well as Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the Anatolian News Agency reported.

Petraeus did not, however, meet Turkey's own chief of intelligence, since he has yet to officially take charge at the CIA , the U.S. official said.