Turkey’s top diplomat to travel to US in May for official talks
Turkey’s top diplomat has said he will be in the United States in May for talks with his U.S. counterpart as part of the recently launched “Strategic Mechanism,” which aims to bolster ties between the two allies.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Washington on May 18, in a first highest governmental level meeting between the two countries since the Biden administration took office in January 2021.
Talking to reporters following a meeting at NATO in Brussels, Çavuşoğlu said he received an invitation from Blinken for the talks slated for May 18. The meeting comes as the dialog between the two allies gained serious momentum in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Turkey and the U.S. have launched what they call the “Strategic Mechanism,” a format that brings different institutions of the two sides together for a more comprehensive and holistic review of ties.
“Anthony Blinken has invited me to Washington on May 18 to hold the [Strategic Mechanism] meeting at the level of foreign ministers. We will discuss this issue [Turkey’s demand for buying F-16s] at this meeting. We want this mechanism to be goal-oriented and fruitful,” he said.
Turkey and the U.S. are negotiating over the former’s demand of purchasing 40 new F-16 fighter jets and 80 modernization kits for its existing fleets. A letter sent to the Congress by the State Department expressed the administration’s positive approach toward the sale, although a congressional approval is required. Some 53 congressmen had appealed to the administration in order to reject the sale of this military equipment to Turkey due to its deployment of Russian S-400s.
“The letter sent to the Congress is important and positive,” Çavuşoğlu told reporters. He recalled that there are problematic areas in ties with the U.S., including the S-400s and Washington’s continued support to the YPG in northeastern Syria.
The minister also informed about his talks with his NATO counterparts, stressing that all the allied countries were praising the role Turkey has been playing since the start of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
“We observe a serious attitude change [toward Turkey]. They emphasize they know the importance of Turkey. Some countries had already taken steps in a bid to ease restrictions in the field of the defense industry. Countries such as Canada also said they want to take steps accordingly,” he said.
Çavuşoğlu, however, said the importance of Turkey should not be recognized only when the European security is in danger. “Turkey is contributing to the European security at all times,” he said.
The minister also said Turkey would continue its efforts for a ceasefire in Ukraine, although the recent massacre in Bucha province of Ukraine has cast a shadow on the negotiations.