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Sunday, December 10, 2023
WorldAsiaBlinken: visit to Turkey

Blinken: visit to Turkey

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken arrived in Turkey on Sunday for an official visit to discuss additional assistance Washington will provide to Ankara to overcome the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that claimed tens of thousands of lives. .Recall that a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria on February 6, killing more than 45,000 people and leaving more than a million homeless, economic losses due to the disaster to amount to billions of dollars.In addition, on the agenda of the visit is the issue of Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership applications, which Turkey has so far refused to ratify, citing the fact that Stockholm is home to people whom Ankara considers to be members of terrorist groups. Turkey recently announced that it would only approve Finland’s request.Related to the issue of Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership bids is Turkey’s desire to acquire US F-16 fighter jets.Congress opposes the sale until Ankara greenlights the process of joining Sweden and Finland.Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen said Saturday that Finland’s membership would not be enough.”There will be no transfer of F-16s if Erdogan continues to deny membership to Finland and Sweden… He will not be able to approve (entry only) Finland and get F-16s , and I think a lot of people agree with that,” Van said. Hollen said in an interview. .The Biden administration has repeatedly said it supports the sale of fighter jets to Turkey, while refraining from linking the two issues, but acknowledging that the ratification of both countries’ candidacies will have a positive impact. on the decision of Congress.Blinken will hold bilateral talks in Ankara on Monday.He is expected to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sources familiar with the planning of the visit said.In the aftermath of the earthquake, the United States sent a search and rescue team, equipment and an additional $85 million in humanitarian aid to Turkey, which is also extending to Syria.Recall that Blinken’s first visit to Turkey as Secretary of State was being prepared some time ago, but it takes place two years after he took office. This contrasts sharply with some of his predecessors, including Hillary Clinton and Rex Tillerson, who visited Turkey during their first three months in office.The delay, analysts say, is indicative of the tense nature of relations between the United States and Turkey, which have deteriorated especially since 2019, when Ankara acquired Russian missile defense systems.Although the United States approves of some of Turkey’s actions after Russia invaded Ukraine, it remains concerned about its close relationship with Moscow, experts say.

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