Biden, Erdogan look for areas of cooperation in first phone call

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday spoke for the first time with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to discuss how the NATO allies can expand cooperation while managing disagreements.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. REUTERS/Umit Bektas 
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

The leaders also agreed to hold a bi-lateral meeting at the NATO Summit in June “to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues,” a White House statement of the call read.

Although the U.S. has for decades seen Turkey as an important security partner, the Biden administration has been concerned with a number of Turkish actions that undermine U.S. and European security such as its purchasing of the Russian S- 400 missile system and increasing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece, and the dispute over Cyprus – Turkey is the only country to recognize the sovereignty of the northeastern portion of the EU member state.

President Joe Biden walks with Vice President Kamala Harris across the West Executive Avenue at the White House Monday, March 29, 2021, following the President’s remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) 
President Joe Biden walks with Vice President Kamala Harris across the West Executive Avenue at the White House Monday, March 29, 2021, following the President’s remarks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Biden had also last month described Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women as “deeply disappointing.”

Ultimately, the U.S. sees keeping Turkey “anchored in the Euro-Atlantic community” as in its interests.

Through National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Chief Advisor Ibrahim Kalin, the two countries had in February previously agreed to cooperate on “global challenges” including the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change as well as to “consult closely on regional issues of mutual concern.”  

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