U.S. President Joe Biden, left, talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the G20 leaders' summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on Tuesday Nov. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, Pool)
NUSA DUA, Indonesia – After Turkey accused the United States of being complicit in a terrorist bombing in Istanbul that killed six, President Joe Biden met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Group of 20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia, where Greece wasn’t on the table – except indirectly.
Biden made it clear that the US supports Turkey in the wake of the bombing, and that he would continue to push the Congress to back his plan to sell more F-16s to Turkey that could be used against Greece in a conflict.
That came after Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Greece, the US and some European Union countries are protecting terrorists and that, “If we had not caught the perpetrators, they would have fled to Greece,” with Athens responding it doesn’t harbor terrorists.
Soylu had ruffled feathers when he said that condolences from the US weren’t accepted because it was like “a killer being first to show up at a crime scene.” Authorities had arrested a Syrian woman and while no groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, Turkish officials have blamed Kurdish militants and the PKK group.
Soylu was referring to the US partnership with the Syrian Democratic Forces, which were essential to the US-led effort to destroy the Islamic State, said Al-Monitor, the issue driving another wedge.
Biden expressed his appreciation to Erdoğan “for his efforts to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which they both agreed has been critical to improving global food security amid Russia’s war and that the Initiative must continue,” reported the site The Hill, which specializes in Washington.
The initiative works to export food to Ukraine, and Russia rejoined the deal earlier this month after Erdoğan talked with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reported, the Turkish leader continuing to play both sides.
It was said that Biden and Erdogan talked about other NATO issues although Turkey had bought Russian-made S-400 missile systems that underline the defense alliance, which has said nothing about Turkish provocations against Greece, including continuing to send fighter jets into Greek airspace.
Biden’s pledge to sell Turkey more F-16’s and upgrade Turkey’s Air Force – after the US and Greece renewed a military cooperation deal that will see a greater American presence in Greece – was seen as a quid pro quo for Turkey supporting the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO.
The short and unannounced meeting between Biden and Erdogan was a rare sit-down between them as the Turkish leader is still miffed over Turkey barred from buying US-made F-35 fighter jets over its purchase of the missile defenses from Russia, an ideological enemy of NATO.
Greece now is trying to get the more advanced fighter jets that would provide a technological advantage over the F-16s that Greece and Turkey use, especially with Greek pilots rated among the world’s best.
A senior Turkish official told Reuters that Turkey plans to pursue targets in northern Syria after it completes a cross-border operation against the PKK in Iraq. Threats to Turkey from Kurdish militants or the Islamic State are unacceptable, the official said, adding that Ankara will clear the dangers along its southern border “one way or another.”
In Turkey’s Parliament Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party and Erdogan’s political ally directed anger at “foreign capitals” who supported terrorism against Turkey, referring to the US and its “insincere condolences.”
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