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Queen Elizabeth Arrives in Turkey for First Visit in 37 Years


Queen Elizabeth II has arrived in Turkey's capital, Ankara, for her first visit to the country since 1971 - a trip diplomats say is designed to underscore British support for Turkey's membership in the European Union.

The queen and her husband, Prince Philip, began their four-day visit Tuesday with a tour of the mausoleum of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Later Tuesday, the royal couple is scheduled to attend a state dinner hosted by President Abdullah Gul.

The queen also is scheduled to visit the province of Bursa and Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, later in the week. The queen is scheduled to return home Friday.

British Ambassador to Turkey Nick Baird says the visit highlights the importance of Britain's relationship with Turkey.

Turkey opened its bid to join the EU in 2005, but disputes over Cyprus and democratic reforms have stalled progress.

While in Istanbul, Queen Elizabeth is scheduled to host President Gul and his wife on the British aircraft carrier, the HMS Illustrious.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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