The United States is decisive in deepening its cooperation with Turkey, Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried said, indicating that the two countries “have several common interests and much to do together.”
“I would like to state that dialogue between the U.S. and Turkey is continuing in a regular manner,” Donfried told Anadolu Agency (AA) during her visit to Turkey.
“One reason why the timing of my visit is appropriate is that the two countries’ leaders, President Erdoğan and President Biden, had the chance to meet in person within the scope of the G-20 in Rome,” she added and said that the issues discussed were elaborated on during her talks in Turkey.
Donfried said that another high-level contact will be made between the foreign ministers toward the end of this month or the beginning of December within the scope of NATO.
Noting that the next leaders' summit, where NATO will agree on a new concept that will determine its strategic direction for the next 10 years, will be held in Madrid in June, Donfried said, "I think this provides the United States and Turkey a great opportunity to think strategically about global challenges that we are facing today together with our NATO allies.”
Speaking on tensions between the two NATO allies Turkey and Greece, Donfried said she regretted that the U.S. presence in Greece caused uneasiness in Ankara.
“Because I believe that the U.S.’ deeper engagement with any NATO ally is something good. The U.S. is equally interested in deepening our cooperation in Turkey. Of course, the purpose of my visit is to consider with our Turkish partners how the U.S. and Turkey can work more closely. I think that cooperation with Greece should definitely be looked at from this perspective.”
She reiterated that U.S. President Joe Biden during the initial phase of his election campaign vowed “America is back,” eyeing the deepening of relations with allies and reviving alliances as well as partnerships.
The Turkish leader was referring to the U.S.' numerous military installations in Greece's Alexandroupoli (Dedeağaç).
The two neighbors and allies in NATO are at odds over a number of issues such as competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, air space, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus and the status of islands in the Aegean.
On the other side, Donfried also touched upon the F-35 dispute between Ankara and Washington that has recently become one of the top items on the agenda in terms of bilateral ties.
Underlining that the U.S. and Turkey have a strong and multilateral defense relationship, Donfried said: “I think the important thing here is that there is an ongoing process where the U.S. and Turkey are working on these issues. I am sure that we will reach a solution by working together.”
Turkey's 2019 purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system has been an irritant on ties, prompting Washington to block Ankara's plans to purchase about 100 next-generation U.S. F-35 jets.
The U.S. argues that the system could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and that it is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
The U.S. sanctioned Turkey in 2020 for its purchase under a 2017 law aimed at pushing back Russian influence. The move was the first time that the law, known as Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), was used to penalize a U.S. ally.
Turkey says its removal is unjust and has demanded reimbursement for its $1.4 billion (TL 13.32 billion) investment in the program.
Erdoğan has said Washington offered Ankara a package of F-16 jets and modernization kits in exchange for the payment.
Any military sales would have to be approved by the U.S. Congress, where anti-Turkish sentiment is strong.
India is another country that has purchased the S-400 missile defense systems from Russia. However, two U.S. senators in late October urged Biden to waive sanctions against India, saying such a punitive measure would endanger growing cooperation.
Speaking on the issue, Donfried stressed that no decision was taken yet.
“For an ally, CAATSA's legal requirements are different. So I think it's also important to understand that India and Turkey are treated differently in this legislation. This is a complex set of topics.
“When we consider CAATSA, we should not put India and Turkey in the same basket. It is important in this context to remember that Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States and the legal consequences of this," she said.
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