Blinken meets Turkish president, foreign minister in Istanbul

Istanbul, Jan 6 (EFE).- United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss the Middle East crisis.

During the talks, the top American diplomat and Turkish leaders addressed the ratification of Sweden’s entry into NATO and anticipated American approval for F-16 fighter jets for Ankara.

Blinken arrived in Istanbul on Friday night and convened at the Ottoman palace of Vahdettin on the Asian side of the city for discussions with Fidan and Erdogan, the Turkish Anadolu news agency said.

The meeting also included Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) head Ibrahim Kalin and US Ambassador to Ankara Jeffry Flake, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.

Earlier in the day, Fidan and Blinken had met one-on-one.

“At the meeting, the ministers discussed the war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Sweden’s NATO accession process, bilateral and regional issues,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on X.

Blinken kicked off his nine-nation tour, which includes stops in Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank, and Egypt.

President Erdogan emphasized that Turkey’s parliamentary ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership depends on the US Congress’ approval of Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 fighter jets.

“Positive developments from the United States regarding the F-16 issue and Canada keeping its promises will accelerate our parliament’s positive view on (Sweden’s membership),” Erdogan said. “All of these are linked.”

Sweden’s full integration into NATO requires ratification by the parliaments of the bloc’s member countries, with all except Turkey and Hungary having already done so. Budapest is expected to give its green light as soon as Ankara does.

According to the US State Departement, Blinken plans to fly to Crete to meet with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, focusing on the situation of the war in Ukraine.

During his Middle East tours, Blinken aims to mediate for the release of Israeli hostages held by the radical Islamist group Hamas and ensure the arrival of sufficient humanitarian aid for the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.

Additionally, discussions are expected to address laying the foundations for promoting a future peace agreement through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, a solution strongly supported by Turkey. EFE


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