US envoy dismisses claims over secret deal on Afghan refugees
SERKAN DEMİRTAŞ - ANKARA
U.S. Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield has dismissed allegations that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden had reached a secret deal over Afghan refugees.
“There is no truth whatsoever to the assertions that a secret deal or arrangement with respect to Afghan refugees was agreed between Presidents Erdoğan and Biden, either during their Brussels meeting or at any other time,” Satterfield told Hürriyet Daily News late Aug. 18.
The ambassador’s statement came as a reinforcement of an earlier message issued by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which said on Twitter: “The U.S. Embassy wishes to state that allegations regarding an ‘agreement’ or ‘deal’ between President Biden and President Erdoğan regarding Afghan refugees or migrants are completely without foundation.”
Erdoğan and Biden had held a face-to-face meeting on June 14 on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels and discussed all the aspects of bilateral relations and regional developments. Their agenda included the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Turkey’s willingness to continue protecting and operating the Kabul international airport.
Ambassador Satterfield did also recall that a statement by an anonymous State Department official who implied that Afghan nationals seeking to immigrate to the U.S. can go to Turkey through Iran and apply from there was repudiated by Washington.
“We have made very clear our regret for the implication in a statement made on Aug. 2 by a U.S. official that the U.S. was in any fashion directing Afghan refugees to Turkey,” he stated.
Angered by the statement described as “irresponsible,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said it won’t accept the U.S. move regarding the resettlement of Afghan refugees because the plan addresses Turkey as the target country for application of the migration procedures.
“This announcement will cause a major refugee crisis in our region and increase the misery of Afghans on the migration routes. Instead of looking for a solution among countries within the region, seeking a solution in Turkey without our consent is unacceptable,” the spokesperson had said on Aug. 3.