Erdoğan meets religious, political leaders in New York

Erdoğan meets religious, political leaders in New York

NEW YORK-Anadolu Agency
Erdoğan meets religious, political leaders in New York

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan met on Sept. 23 with religious figures and leaders of some countries in New York, where he is holding talks as part of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.

Erdoğan hosted representatives of Jewish institutions in the U.S. behind closed doors at the Peninsula Hotel.

The meeting was attended by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Trade Minister Ruhsan Pekcan, Presidential Communications Director Fahrettin Altun and presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın, among others.

No information has been released on the content of the talks.

Later, Erdoğan met with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel at UN headquarters. It was also closed to the media.

During the meeting, Albayrak and Volkan Bozkır, chairman of the Turkish parliament's foreign affairs committee, were present.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was also a guest of the Turkish president.

The meeting was also held behind closed doors and attended by Albayrak, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and Pekcan.

Erdoğan also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

No further details of the closed-door meeting were provided.

Erdoğan is set to address the 74th session of the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 24, during which he said he would raise international peace and security issues.

'Turkey regional leader in renewable energy'

Turkey is a leading country in its region in renewable energy use, Erdoğan said.

"Currently, we are meeting more than 30% of the electricity through renewable energy," Erdoğan said as he vowed to boost the current rate to 39% by 2023.

Erdoğan was speaking at a climate change summit at UN headquarters and said the problems the world faces requires solutions that need regional and international cooperation. 

Turkey is also minimizing disaster risk while building climate-sensitive and energy-efficient cities, he said.

The Turkish president said his country planted more than 4 billion trees and plans to plant 11 million more by Nov. 11.

"One of our 2023 targets is to increase forest areas to 30% of the total area," he added.

In a bid to reduce greenhouse emissions and solve traffic congestion, Turkey is building subway lines, and will step up the length of intercity railway system by 50%, said the president. 

Turkey will also reduce plastic bag consumption by 75% in line with environmental goals.

Erdoğan said the Zero Waste project, initiated by first lady Emine Erdoğan, has been adopted in all cities and institutions across the country. 

"We are expanding Zero Waste project in all of Turkey. By 2023, we will have switched to Zero Waste system in nearly 400,000 buildings," he said. "We will increase the recovery rate of recycling from 13% to 35%."

Turkey is also working on roadmaps to make new buildings carbon neutral by 2030 and existing buildings by 2050. 

Trump calls Erdoğan 'a friend of mine'

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sept. 23 that Turkey's president has become "a friend" following negotiations to free an American pastor from Turkish custody.

Trump said his administration was "thrilled" to secure Andrew Brunson's release following "a very short and respectful negotiation with a very strong man, and a man who has become a friend of mine fortunately, President Erdoğan of Turkey."

"I called the president and I said ‘he’s an innocent man.’ They’d been trying to get Andrew out for a long time," Trump said, referring to the Obama administration during an event on religious freedom at the UN 74th General Assembly. "I don’t think they tried too hard unfortunately. But I want to thank President Erdoğan, and I want to thank you pastor for being here with us today."

Brunson, who was released in October after being charged in the Turkish province of Izmir with being a member of the FETÖ, was among attendees at the U.S.-hosted session.

Speaking to religious freedom more generally, Trump called on nations to act on "this urgent moral duty."

"We ask the governments of the world to honor the eternal right of every person to follow their conscience, live by their faith and give glory to God," Trump said, as he announced an additional $25 million in funding to protect religious liberty, as well as religious sites and relics.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used his time addressing the panel to lash out against religious persecution, saying it is "totally unacceptable" for individuals to have their religious freedoms curtailed in the modern age.

He further criticized those who seek to exploit religion for their own ends, cautioning "we must be vigilant about attempts to instrumentalize religion and identity to restrict the full enjoyment of rights by others and to perpetrate or justify inequalities."