The United States denied Aug. 27 reports that it sending a low-profile delegation to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential inauguration intends to convey an ulterior message to Ankara.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said during the daily press briefing that U.S. officials “look forward to working with Prime Minister Erdoğan in his new role as president.”
“President Obama spoke with him, had a productive conversation with him just a few weeks ago and congratulated him on his election. And we remain committed to continuing to strengthen our partnership and continuing to work with Turkey in areas where we can work together,” Psaki said.
At least 15 countries will be represented at the highest level at the Aug. 29 inauguration at the Turkish Parliament; however, the United States will send its Ankara Embassy chargé d’affairs, a rather low-level participant compared to those sent by other countries.
“Our delegation … that the White House announced yesterday [Aug. 27] is consistent with Turkish government protocol that countries may be represented by their resident in Ankara, if heads of state or foreign ministers are unable to attend. I would also note that if Congress had confirmed our ambassador to Turkey, that certainly, he would be happy to attend,” Psaki added. “But as you know, that didn’t happen before Congress recessed.”
When reminded that U.S. sent at least two people to each country that held inauguration ceremonies in the past year, Psaki said “if the ambassador was confirmed, it would be a strong delegation of two.”
“This wasn’t to send a signal — this isn’t a deliberate slight, is it?” a reporter asked, to which Psaki replied, “Absolutely not. Absolutely not.”
For the June inauguration of Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, the White House sent a delegation consisting of eight members, including senators, headed by Vice President Joe Biden.