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Turkish, US officials discuss ties, int’l matters in Washington

Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın Tuesday met with U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland at the State Department, according to a statement from the White House.

Kalın and the U.S. officials discussed political and economic relations, last month’s earthquakes in Türkiye, defense industry cooperation, energy security, the fight against terrorism, Sweden and Finland’s bids for NATO membership, the Russia-Ukraine war, the South Caucasus and the negotiation process between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the statement highlighted.

During the talks, Kalın communicated his pleasure for the support and solidarity from the U.S. and the international community for Türkiye following the Feb. 6 earthquakes. He said Türkiye is continuing its efforts for the rapid recovery and reconstruction of the earthquake-hit areas as Sullivan reiterated condolences for the tragic loss of life and sustained U.S. support for victims.

The meetings also focused on the strategic dimension of Türkiye-U.S. relations and the importance of the two allies continuing their cooperation on global and regional issues based on mutual respect and interest.

During the talks, both sides agreed steps should be taken in order for the bilateral trade volume to reach the target of $100 billion.

“The focus was on deepening cooperation in the field of the defense industry without any preconditions,” it added.

On Sweden and Finland’s entry into NATO, Sullivan underscored the U.S.’ point of view that the two nations should become members as soon as possible while Kalın noted Türkiye backs the alliance’s open-door policy and that these Nordic nations’ fulfillment of their commitments in line with the June 2022 trilateral memorandum will speed up the process.

On the war in Ukraine, the officials stressed that a prolonged conflict deepened regional and global instability, while Kalın assured Ankara would continue its diplomatic efforts for a solution.

The officials also discussed Türkiye’s role in facilitating grain exports out of Ukraine with the United Nations and ensuring the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Joint backing for ongoing peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan was on the agenda as well.

According to the statement, Kalın also noted that Türkiye will continue its fight against terrorist organizations, including the PKK, its U.S.-backed Syrian affiliate the YPG, Daesh, and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) – the group behind the 2016 defeated coup attempt in Türkiye.

Alongside the European Union, both Washington and Ankara recognize the PKK as a terrorist organization, and despite Ankara’s documentation of the fact that the YPG is, in actuality, the same terrorist group, consistent U.S. support for the terrorists remains a source of significant strain between the allies.

Ahead of the meetings, Kalın told reporters in Washington that the two countries could overcome “whatever differences we have (…) as our relationship is based on principles of good governance and understanding.”

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