Blinken tackles Gaza, NATO growth with Türkiye’s Erdogan


Blinken’s visit was played down by Turkish officials and few immediate details were disclosed.

Turkish state media released an official photo of Blinken shacking Erdogan’s hand at one of the Turkish leader’s Istanbul residences.

The Turkish foreign ministry issued a two line statement saying Blinken and counterpart Hakan Fidan discussed “the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Sweden’s NATO accession process, bilateral and regional issues”.

Blinken will hope to win assurances that a ratification vote on Sweden’s accession to NATO will be held soon by Türkiye’s parliament.

Erdogan has been able to use Türkiye’s veto power to impel Sweden into taking a tougher stance with Kurdish groups in Stockholm that Ankara views as “terrorists”.

He has also been trying to make Sweden’s approval conditional on the US delivering 40 US F-16 fighters jets and nearly 80 modernisation kits for Türkiye’s ageing air force.

Biden’s administration officially backs the sale.

But has been unable to overcome resistance in Congress from lawmakers who express alarm about Türkiye’s position on Sweden and past military standoffs with historic rival Greece.

Blinken was to travel to the Greek island of Crete later Saturday for talks with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Athens has fiercely resisted the US jet sales because of longstanding territorial disputes with Türkiye in the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean region.

Greece is seeking to purchase a batch of more advanced F-35 jets from the United States to counter the perceived Turkish threat.

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