US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Monday after visiting the earthquake site and announcing $100 million in additional aid for the afflicted.
This is the first visit by the US Secretary of State to Türkiye since he took office two years ago.
It’s assumed that the war in Ukraine will be present at the meeting.
The United States recognizes the constructive role of its Turkish ally in the conflict, as since it began on February 24, 2022, Ankara, which has good relations with the two capitals, has offered its mediation to end it.
The United States and Türkiye, two allies in NATO, have tense relations at times, and their differences are supposed to be discussed during the meeting.
One of the contentious issues between the two countries is the Turkish ban on Sweden and Finland’s membership in NATO, after they suspended their candidacy since May.
On Thursday, the Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, considered during a visit to Ankara that “the time has come” to include these two countries in northern Europe.
Another geopolitical issue is the potential sale of F16 fighter jets that President Joe Biden promised Ankara and blocked by Congress over concerns about Türkiye’s human rights record and the threats it poses to Greece.
Also among the contentious issues is the Kurdish “People’s Protection Units,” which Türkiye classifies as terrorist group, and which was one of the main forces fighting the Islamic State, with air support from the US-led international coalition.
Antony Blinken’s visit also comes in the context of the earthquake that struck Türkiye and Syria on February 6th.
The 7.8-magnitude earthquake caused massive damage in the south of the country and in Syria, killing more than 44,000 people, including 40,689 in Türkiye, according to the latest official toll.
As of the day after the earthquake, the United States deployed a number of search and rescue teams of about 200 personnel and released a batch of humanitarian aid worth 85 million dollars.
On Sunday, secretary Blinken announced additional aid to Türkiye.
“We’re adding $100 million to provide assistance to those who need it most,” he said.
US Secretary of State met his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, at Incirlik Air Base in the southeast of the country, before heading to Ankara, where he will meet Erdogan.
From the Incirlik base, humanitarian aid, especially American ones, is transported to be distributed to the areas affected by the earthquake.
Blinken then accompanied Cavusoglu on a helicopter flight over the devastated southeastern province of Hatay.
Likewise, the Foreign Minister met in Türkiye with representatives of the Syrian “White Helmets” relief organization, which operates in areas controlled by the opposition factions in Syria.
After Türkiye, Blinken will conclude his European tour in Athens, where he will hold a series of meetings on Monday and Tuesday evening with officials in Greece.