WASHINGTON — While tensions have subsided the devastating earthquake in Turkey, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will make stops there and in Greece whe worries remain about President Joe Biden wanting to sell more F-16’s to Turkey.
Blinken will also travel to Germany to attend the Munich Security Conference that starts Feb. 18 and will feature appearances by U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi.
In Munich, Blinken will push continued support for Ukraine against Russia’s ongoing invasion and assistance Turkey and Syria, where the earthquake also struck, said media reports and the State Department.
“Secretary Blinken will visit Incirlik Air Base in Türkiye on February 19 to see firsthand U.S. efforts to assist the Turkish authorities responding to the devastation caused by the February 6 earthquakes,” said the State Department.
Greece’s immediate assistance to Turkey in the wake of the quake, including sending search-and-recovery teams and medical staff and equipment and supplies calmed the troubles between them for now.
Before that, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was adding to threats by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of invading Greece went to Washington in January for talks that didn’t go well for him.
Turkey has refused to impose sanctions on Russia as did the European Union, bought Russian S-400 missile systems that undermine NATO and could be used against Greece and is blocking Sweden’s hope of joining the defense alliance unless it gets the US-made F-16’s.
Despite that, Stoltenberg praised Turkey as a “valuable ally” of NATO at the same time the Turkish President is undercutting its security and still dealing with Russia during the invasion of Ukraine.
The State Department said that Blinken in Athens will meet Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, and major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras to discuss defense cooperation and energy security, and our shared commitment to defend democracy.
Blinken will also will launch the fourth round of the U.S.-Greece Strategic Dialogue after the two countries in 2021 renewed a military cooperation agreement that will now see an increased American military presence.