Turkish, U.S. officials hold talks as Erdoğan heralds ‘new era’ in relations

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Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will hold political consultations in Ankara on Thursday.

Bilateral ties, as well as regional and international issues, will be discussed during the meeting, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement published on Wednesday.

The U.S.-Turkey relationship has deteriorated after Turkey acquired S-400 air defence missiles from Russia in 2019, which resulted in Ankara’s exclusion from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme and sanctions against its defence industry. The two countries also differ over Syria, where the United States backs Kurdish militants that Turkey considers terrorists, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean.

Thursday’s talks will precede a meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at a NATO summit in Brussels. It will be the first between the two leaders since Biden’s election.

On Wednesday, Erdoğan said the talks with Biden will mark the beginning of a “new era” in relations between the countries.

“Although there are differences of ideas from time to time, our partnership and alliance have managed to overcome all kinds of predicaments,” he told U.S. executives in a videoconference, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

Biden and Erdoğan held their first phone call in April, four months after Biden’s inauguration.

U.S. criticism of Turkey’s human rights record under Erdoğan’s increasingly autocratic rule has constituted another cause of friction between Washington and Ankara.

Turkey has a “serious’’ potential of cooperation with the United States, “from Syria to Libya, and from fighting against terrorism to energy, and from trade to investment’,’ Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan highlighted that addressing issues such as the existence of the Gülen movement in the United States and U.S. support for Kurdish groups were important in advancing Ankara-Washington relations.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, of orchestrating a coup attempt in 2016. Gülen lives in Pennsylvania and Turkey has called repeatedly on the United States to extradite him. The cleric denies any involvement in the coup.

Erdoğan made the comments to the executives of large U.S. companies including Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, Kellogg, PepsiCo, Cisco, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, according to Reuters.

The Turkish president urged the executives to encourage better bilateral ties during the call, in which he reiterated his criticism of the White House’s decision last month to call the 1915 Ottoman massacre of Armenians a genocide.

“I believe we will make Turkey, which maintains the status of being the heart of three continents, a base for production and technology with your support,” Erdoğan said.

Ahval

 

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