Obama congratulates Erdogan on election as Turkey president

Martha’s Vineyard (United States) (AFP) - US President Barack Obama congratulated Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday on his election as president, saying he had a "historic opportunity" to move his country forward, the White House said.

Obama, in a telephone call to Erdogan, also discussed the ceasefire efforts in Gaza, the White House said, without elaborating.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a source of tension between the US and Turkey, with Erdogan criticizing Washington for defending Israel's "disproportionate" tactics.

"The president praised the prime minister’s speech on Sunday and noted that as Turkey’s first directly elected president, the prime minister has an historic opportunity to further move Turkey forward," the White House said.

It said they agreed on the importance of close cooperation on Syria and Iraq and "the terrorist threat emanating from the region."

Obama welcomed Turkey's humanitarian assistance for Syrians and Iraqis, and expressed hope a new government in Iraq will bring all that country's communities together.

Erdogan, who was elected president on Sunday with 51.79 percent of the vote, succeeds Abdullah Gul as president on August 28.