Turkey, US launch talks on eve of Erdoğan-Biden summit
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has become the first senior American official under the Biden administration visiting the Turkish capital for talks with her counterparts amid many contentious bilateral issues and on the eve of a summit between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden.
Sherman, who was appointed as Deputy Secretary of State in April, arrived in Turkey after her talks in Brussels with the EU and NATO officials in her first mission abroad. In Ankara, she met with Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and other officials as well as the representatives of Turkish civil society. Talks in Ankara come after a phone conversation between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken last week.
Already tense ties between the two countries over a number of differences have seriously severed after Biden’s description of the 1915 events as genocide in an annual commemoration on April 24. Despite the White House statement, President Erdoğan and President Biden agreed to meet in person on June 14 in Brussels on the occasion of the NATO Summit. Erdoğan had expressed his hope that his meeting with Biden in Brussels will open a new era in the bilateral ties.
Sherman and Önal have reportedly reviewed the preparations for the Erdoğan-Biden summit. They also elaborated on the current state of ties, including Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 air defense systems from Russia and the U.S.’s continued support to the YPG in the fight against ISIL in northern Syria.
The two diplomats also discussed regional developments and other bilateral matters. Washington welcomed the resumption of military and political talks between Turkey and Greece after a year-long tension in the eastern Mediterranean. It also encourages Turkey, Greece and Turkish and Greek Cypriots to revive reunification talks.
Bilaterally, Turkey demands a solid stance from the U.S. about Fethullah Gülen, the leader of FETÖ responsible for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, who is residing in the U.S. The U.S. administration, for its part, has been criticizing the Turkish government over human rights and democracy.
Describing her meeting with Önal, in Ankara productive, Sherman on Twitter said: “We appreciate Turkey’s continued support to over 4 million refugees.”
The importance of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law as well as Afghanistan, Syria and regional issues were also discussed in the meeting, Sherman noted.