Turkish ambassador quits days after prime minister’s U.S. visit

Nabi Sensoy, who had served as ambassador since January 2006, submitted his resignation Thursday, according to a source familiar with the Turkish embassy.

The resignation reportedly stems from an argument between Sensoy and Turkey’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, according to The Hürriyet Daily News, a Turkish English language daily newspaper. Davutoglu was upset at Sensoy because he could not find him a seat in the White House meeting on Monday between President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the report.

An official with the Turkish Embassy said he did not know why Sensoy decided to leave his post.

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“He asked to go back to Ankara,” said the official. Sensoy plans to still work in the Turkish foreign ministry and is expected to retire next year.

Turkey is a major player on K Street that has spent millions of dollars on lobbyists and public relations firms over the past several years. It spent $3.4 million in 2008 on trade, foreign policy and economic issues, according to Justice Department semiannual reports to Congress.

Much of Turkey’s lobbying and public relations effort on Capitol Hill has been dedicated to preventing passage of a resolution decrying as genocide the killings of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks during World War I. Turkey and Armenian-American groups have both spent heavily in that fight.

Former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) and ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) both have lobbied for Turkey.

Sensoy has been at the head of Turkey’s lobbying efforts and is a well-known figure on Capitol Hill and K Street.

When the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a House resolution labeling the Armenian killings as genocide in October 2007, Sensoy was temporarily recalled from his post as a sign of Turkey’s disfavor of the United States.

At the White House meeting Monday, Obama was seeking Turkish help with the war in Afghanistan.

This story was updated at 3:06 p.m.