Erdoğan in First Visit to Washington After Years of Tension

The head of Turkish intelligence will meet with members of the US House of Representatives to discuss the upcoming visit of the Turkish president and other bilateral issues

A Turkish security official said today, Friday, that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit the United States on May 9th, paving the way for his first meeting in the White House during the administration of US President Joe Biden.

This will be Erdoğan‘s first visit to Washington since 2019 when he met with then-President Donald Trump, with whom he had a good personal relationship. Since Biden‘s election in 2020, Ankara has sought another direct meeting between the two leaders.

Relations between the two NATO member countries, which had been strained for a long time due to disagreements on a range of issues, have improved since Ankara approved Sweden’s request to join the alliance in January, after a 20-month delay that caused frustration in Washington.

However, tension still persists due to issues including northern Syria, where US forces are allied with Kurdish militants whom Ankara considers terrorists. The United States also urges Turkey to make more efforts to stop the flow of goods to Russia, which Washington says are being used in Moscow’s military efforts in Ukraine.

The official did not provide any further information about the visit, but said that Turkish intelligence chief İbrahim Kalın will meet with members of the US House of Representatives today to discuss Erdoğan‘s planned visit and other bilateral issues.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met with the US delegation yesterday and today, while Washington or the US Embassy in Ankara has not yet commented on the visit.

Analysts say that Biden and Erdoğan are also likely to discuss the war between Israel and the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) amid sharp criticism from Erdoğan of Israel’s actions, as well as cooperation in the defense industry, including Turkey’s recent approval to purchase US F-16 fighters.

Officials from Turkey and the United States held comprehensive talks earlier this month focusing on the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza and various bilateral issues during meetings in Washington, as the two countries seek to address contentious points on a number of security and military files, including the F-35 aircraft deal that Ankara insists on.

The two NATO members began talks, dubbed the “Strategic Mechanism,” a few weeks ago to discuss efforts to overcome severe political disagreements and improve cooperation in other areas.

Fidan said at the time that officials from both countries had held several rounds of discussions on issues including crises in Syria and Ukraine, Gaza, cooperation in defense, as well as energy and counterterrorism.

The US Senate rejected an attempt to halt the sale of F-16 aircraft and upgrade equipment worth $23 billion to Turkey, approved by the administration of President Joe Biden after Ankara agreed to Sweden’s accession to NATO.

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