Biden thanks Erdoğan for efforts on grain deal

Biden thanks Erdoğan for efforts on grain deal

Biden thanks Erdoğan for efforts on grain deal

U.S. President Joe Biden and his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 15 discussed the Ukrainian crisis and the former thanked the Turkish president for his efforts that led to the resumption of the grain shipment following the resolution of the problem in the grain corridor between Russia and Ukraine, Türkiye’s presidency said.

The two leaders talked on the margins of the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, touching on several of the issues at the heart of the close, but often contentious U.S.-Turkish relationship.

Bilateral relations, particularly trade and security issues, were discussed during the meeting, the presidential communications directorate of Türkiye said. Biden offered condolences for those killed in the terrorist attack on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue, said the statement.

The key deal enables shipment of Ukrainian grain exports safely out across the Black Sea for world markets. The arrangement with Russia, which is attacking Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, is vital to helping stem disruptions to global food supplies but is set to expire on Nov. 19.

“Noting that the U.S. administration will continue to support the process regarding the F16s, U.S. President Biden described Türkiye as an important actor in Sweden’s NATO membership process,” it added.

Upon the Turkish government’s request in late 2021, Ankara and Washington are negotiating on the sale of 40 new F-16 warfighters and 79 modernization kits. Türkiye says it needs them to keep its air forces intact to protect its and NATO’s air space on the southern flank of the alliance after its participation to the joint F-35 jetfighter project was ended due to its employment of the Russian S-400 air defense systems.

The U.S. administration expressed its support to the Turkish request but underlines that this sale must be endorsed by the U.S. Congress as well. The mid-term elections of the U.S. Congress provided a majority to the Republicans at the House of Representatives, but Democrats could defend the Senate.

In a readout by the White House, Biden expressed “deep condolences” for the deaths of six people in a bomb attack in a busy street in Istanbul on Nov. 13, underlining that “we stand with our NATO ally.”

“President Biden expressed his appreciation to President Erdoğan for his efforts to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which they both agreed has been critical to improving global food security amid Russia’s war and that the initiative must continue,” the White House said.

The two also discussed continued close coordination on NATO Alliance issues, and other issues of regional and global concern, said the statement.

Türkiye is currently holding up NATO membership bids by Finland and Sweden.

The two Nordic countries dropped decades of military non-alignment and scrambled to become NATO members in May, after Russia invaded Ukraine. But Ankara threatened to block their bids and sought concessions, leading to a deal in June between Türkiye, Finland and Sweden that included provisions on extraditions of “terrorists” and sharing information.

Erdoğan meets France’s Macron

Meanwhile, Erdoğan also met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the summit and the latter Macron conveyed his condolences for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on in Istanbul.

Erdoğan told Macron that it was a common interest to develop cooperation between the two countries in the defense and energy sectors, as well as in trade, said the Turkish presidency.

Stating that the grain corridor started to function again after intense efforts, President Erdoğan said that the European Union should also do its part for the continuation of the deal.

He also told Macron that Greece should be “encouraged to have honest, sincere and meaningful dialogue,” said the presidency.

The Turkish president also met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Speaking at the summit, Erdoğan pointed at the food crisis in the world, and said, “Currently, the world is faced with the possibility of a rice crisis, as in wheat, sunflower oil and corn. Likewise, the world fertilizer market must be stabilized quickly. Otherwise, we will experience a bigger food crisis next year.”

Türkiye has made great efforts to ensure global food security, he said noting that thanks to the constructive approaches of the parties, over 10 million tons of grain have been shipped from the grain corridor established in the Black Sea.

The Istanbul Consensus also showed that the parties were able to reach an agreement despite the war, the president stated.

“Of course, steps must be taken to ease the obstacles that cause trouble, with your support, in order for the mechanism to continue to function. In addition, we must take action to transport the exported grain to underdeveloped regions in urgent need, especially to Africa,” Erdoğan stated.

Turkish, US chief of general staff discuss Istanbul terror attack

Meanwhile, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler held a phone call on Nov. 14 with U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley regarding a terrorist attack in Istanbul, which left six people dead and 81 others injured.

The two officials discussed “the recent terror attack in Istanbul and reaffirmed the strength of our bilateral military relationship” in the call, U.S. Joint Staff Spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said in a statement.

At least six people were killed, while 81 others were wounded in the Nov. 13 explosion on İstiklal Avenue, a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants leading to the iconic Taksim Square.

The bomber has been identified as Syrian national Ahlam Albashir, a member of the YPG, which is the PKK terrorist organization’s Syrian offshoot, the Turkish police said.

Türkiye does not accept the condolence by the U.S. over the deadly terror attack in Istanbul, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Nov. 14. An alliance with a state which supports elements and regions that disturb Türkiye’s peace is problematic, Soylu said. “Whoever is feeding the PYD there, trying to provide internal intelligence to the PKK, is the perpetrator,” he added.

In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the U.S. and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.