Image: Hillary Clinton, Dorothy Rodham
Handout  /  Getty Images File
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her mother Dorothy Rodham and Chelsea Clinton pose during the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky at the Astor Courts Estate on July 31, 2010 in Rhinebeck, New York. news services
updated 11/1/2011 11:06:55 AM ET 2011-11-01T15:06:55

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has canceled a trip to London and Turkey for international conferences on cyber security and Afghanistan because of her mother's illness.

Clinton had been scheduled to depart Washington late Monday but decided against the trip when her mother, 92-year-old Dorothy Rodham, became ill.

A State Department official says Clinton will remain in Washington. The nature of her mother's illness was not released.

Wednesday's conference in Istanbul is focused on creating a regional strategy for improving security and economic development in Afghanistan.

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The conference in Istanbul on Wednesday is focused on creating a regional strategy for improving security and economic development in Afghanistan.

Turkey urged to smooth ties
Earlier Monday, speaking to the American-Turkish Council in Washington, Clinton said the "Turkish miracle" had seen that country's economy triple in size over the last decade as reforms opened up both the political and economic sectors to new competition.

But she said Ankara -- which hopes to draft a new constitution by the first half of 2012 -- must be careful to ensure that human rights are respected, minority groups are included and media freedoms are guaranteed.

"Turkey's ability to realize its full potential depends upon its resolve to strengthen democracy at home and promote peace in the neighborhood," Clinton said in prepared remarks.

Clinton had been preparing to travel to Istanbul for an international conference on Wednesday aimed at consolidating international support for Afghanistan, where Muslim Turkey has troops in non-combat roles working with NATO forces.

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The United States and Turkey have seen trade and diplomatic ties expand as NATO-member Turkey assumes a more prominent regional role. Ankara agreed in September to host an early-warning radar system to help spot missile threats coming from outside Europe, including from Iran.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government also played an important role in the NATO-led alliance that helped Libyan rebels topple longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, and has been an outspoken critic of President Bashar al-Assad's bloody crackdown on protests in neighboring Syria.

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But Turkey has also alarmed Washington with its sometimes brash muscle-flexing, which has seen its relations with fellow U.S. ally Israel lurch into crisis. It also entered into adangerous maritime spat with Cyprus over gas drilling.

'Responsible leadership'
Clinton said Turkey's new power provided it with an opportunity to demonstrate "responsible leadership" and urged Ankara to work with Israel to overcome differences over Israel's Palestinian policies and its killing last year of nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound activist ship.

"We have been dismayed by the deterioration of relations between Turkey and Israel," Clinton said. "We continue to urge both countries to look for opportunities to get this important relationship back on track."

Clinton underscored U.S. support for United Nations mediation efforts in Cyprus, where Turkey has responded angrily to drilling by U.S. company Noble Energy in waters it says belong to Turkish-backed northern Cyprus but are more widely recognized as belonging to the Cypriot government.

"We believe that public rhetoric must be kept to a minimum to allow the parties to achieve a solution," Clinton said.

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"And while we recognize the right of the Republic of Cyprus to explore for natural resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone, including with the assistance of U.S. firm Noble Energy, we look forward to both sides benefiting from shared resources in the context of an overall agreement."

Clinton stressed that Washington would continue to back Ankara in its fight against separatist rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, and that the United States hoped Turkey would one day achieve its long-deferred goal of joining the European Union.

"Reducing tensions with neighbors and increasing stability in the neighborhood is a recipe for expanded growth and influence," Clinton said.

"Turkey's leaders understand this. But it will take bold choices and strong political will to leave the past behind and embrace the future Turkey deserves."

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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