Turkey, US agree on formation of joint mechanism to strengthen ties
The Turkish and U.S. presidents agreed on the formation of a joint mechanism to strengthen and improve bilateral ties in a meeting on the sidelines of the two-day G20 leaders’ summit in Italy, according to a statement made by Turkey’s Communications Directorate on Oct. 31.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, during the closed-door meeting - which lasted for over an hour - discussed the steps to be taken in line with the common perspective to expand the bilateral trade volume, the statement said.
The leaders stressed the importance of the NATO alliance and the strategic partnership, and also expressed satisfaction about mutual steps taken on climate change, it added.
“President Biden underscored his desire to maintain constructive relations, expand areas of cooperation, and manage our disagreements effectively,” a White House statement said.
Biden expressed appreciation for Turkey’s nearly two decades of contributions to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, the statement read.
“President Biden reaffirmed our defense partnership and Turkey’s importance as a NATO Ally, but noted U.S. concerns over Turkey’s possession of the Russian S-400 missile system,” it added.
The two leaders also discussed the political process in Syria, the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in need, elections in Libya, the situation in the eastern Mediterranean, and diplomatic efforts in the South Caucasus, noted the statement.
Turkey and the U.S. have been in talks over the latter’s supply of warplanes the Turkish army needs after it was excluded from the F-35 joint fighter jet program, and Ankara claim $1.4 billion it paid to the U.S. for the fifth-generation jet fighters.
Turkey was excluded from the F-35 joint fighter program in mid-2019 after it deployed the Russian S-400 air defense systems. The U.S. seized the five F-35s Turkey had paid for and did not pay back $1.4 billion. Recently, Turkey asked for the purchase of 40 F-16 fighters and 80 modernization kits for its existing planes in a bid not to weaken its air forces.
The most important subject in this meeting would be the F-35 issue, Erdoğan had said ahead of his meeting with Biden. He noted that there are signals from Washington to deliver the F-16 warplanes in return for the money Turkey paid for the F-35 program.
“There is some information we receive at the lower level. Some information about giving us F-16s… The information we received is that there is a plan to pay for this with them. Is this true or not; we will learn from them. At the highest level, of course, it would be appropriate for me to talk to Mr. Biden. If so, we will have reached an agreement accordingly,” Erdoğan had stated.
The meeting was the two leaders’ second since Biden was elected president after they had met in Brussels on the sidelines of the NATO meeting in June.
The meeting also came hot on the heels of a new diplomatic spat that saw Erdoğan threaten to expel the U.S. and nine other Western ambassadors over their statement regarding the release of jailed Turkish businessman Osman Kavala.
Erdoğan meets world leaders in Rome
Erdoğan on Oct. 30 met with world leaders on the sidelines of the G20 Rome summit.
Erdoğan met Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at the La Nuvola Convention Center, which hosted the 2021 summit in Italy, the first in-person summit since the COVID-19 pandemic.
An official statement by the office of the Italian prime minister described the Erdoğan-Draghi meeting as “constructive.”
“Constructive exchange of views on EU-Turkey relations, the Afghan crisis and stability in the Mediterranean, with particular attention to the developments in the intra-Libyan political process,” it said.
The Turkish president also received Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Separately, Erdoğan met with EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen for a 30-minute talk.
“Good exchange with Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We took stock of ongoing work on a range of issues, from the pandemic to economic recovery, the situation in Afghanistan and beyond,” von der Leyen said on Twitter.
Later, the Turkish president held a 30-minute closed-door meeting with his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo.