'Türkiye, US to discuss relief support and bilateral ties'

'Türkiye, US to discuss relief support and bilateral ties'

Türkiye, US to discuss relief support and bilateral ties

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will arrive in Türkiye on Feb. 19 for a two-day trip and visit the area affected by the earthquakes before holding talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Çavuşoğlu said he and his colleague will discuss the additional support Washington is planning to deliver to Türkiye and the people of Türkiye in the aftermath of two devastating earthquakes of Feb. 6 that killed more than 35,000 people.

A statement by the spokesperson of the U.S. State Department, Ned Price, informed that the Blinken will pay his first visit to Türkiye on Sunday, Feb. 19, as he will land in the İncirlik Base from where the U.S. is coordinating its relief support to the Turkish people after the quake disaster. He will later move to Ankara to hold talks with Turkish government officials.

Çavuşoğlu confirmed his colleague’s trip to Türkiye at a press conference with visiting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Feb. 16. “We will thank him for the U.S. support after the earthquakes. We spoke two times on the phone with Blinken, and he is asking what additional assistance they can make for Türkiye,” Çavuşoğlu said.

Along with the earthquake response, the two men will review all the aspects of the bilateral relations under the existing strategic mechanism, Çavuşoğlu said, recalling this body was established by the two sides’ presidents to improve bilateral relations and resolve problems.

Çavuşoğlu said regional issues, such as the ongoing Russian-Ukrainian war, the prolongation of the grain corridor, as well as the accession process of Sweden and Finland into the alliance, will also be on the agenda.

In a briefing to media late on Feb. 15, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried informed that the two foreign ministers will discuss ways to further strengthen their partnership at NATO.

On Feb. 20, Blinken will visit Anitkabir to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony in honor of modern Türkiye founder Gazi Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

One of the priorities of Blinken when in Türkiye will be how the U.S. will continue its assistance in the aftermath of the earthquakes of Feb. 6, she said, adding: “There’s no question in my mind that the destructive earthquakes that hit Türkiye last week will be uppermost on everyone’s minds when the Secretary is in Türkiye.”

Recalling that the U.S. immediately responded to the tragedy in both Türkiye and Syria and provided $85 million in the initial response while deploying urban search and rescue teams and specialized equipment, Donfried underlined, “So that is an operation that is taking place out of Incirlik, and that is why the Secretary thought that it would be useful to make that stop in Incirlik.”

The assistant secretary described the tragedy as the worst earthquake Türkiye has ever experienced, adding, “So I think all of our hearts go out to our friends and allies in Türkiye who are trying to manage a really tragic situation.”

'Türkiye, Greece valued allies of US'

According to the statement, Blinken will go to Greece after his talks in Türkiye and will hold talks with senior Greek officials. The visit was orchestrated much before the earthquake happened in Türkiye and was aiming to underline the balanced policy of Washington between Ankara and Athens.

Donfried, on a question, reiterated that Türkiye and Greece are both very much valued allies of the United States. “As you know, the United States also has a presence in the Aegean, and so we are always interested in ensuring that relations between our two allies are as strong as they can be. And I think both countries have played important roles in supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression, which has been so much of the focus of the past year,” she stressed.

When recalled that Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias was the first European official to visit Türkiye and express condolences, the U.S. diplomat said: “It was moving to see Foreign Minister Dendias and Foreign Minister Cavuşoğlu together be looking at the horrible destruction that the earthquake wreaked in Türkiye. And I think, frankly, it reminded all of us of our shared humanity. And I think that really is what is called for at this moment. That’s what allies are for, that’s what friends are for. When one of us is in trouble, the rest of us go and do our best to help.”


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