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Turkey’s East Med activities on Biden-Erdogan agenda

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US President Joe Biden will raise Turkey’s tension-stoking activities in the eastern Mediterranean when he meets his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, next week.

That is what US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Biden holding his first meeting with Erdogan on the margins of the 14 June NATO summit.

He said Washington had engaged Turkey directly on these issues, which will be at the top of the agenda when Biden and Erdogan meet.

The Secretary of State called Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean “deeply disturbing” but expressed satisfaction that Turkey withdrew its vessels from the maritime area, Cyprus considers to be part of its exclusive economic zone, and ceased drilling activities.

Blinken reiterated that it is in the US interest to keep Turkey “anchored to the West” and aligned on other critical issues.

Menendez said that “you can’t be anchored to the West and drifting in every other direction further away.”

Committee chair Bob Menendez said Turkey is violating international law, threatens Cyprus in its exclusive economic zone, declared a maritime zone reaching Libya that interferes with Greece and, engages in aggression against Armenia through Azerbaijan.

Biden and Erdogan will meet to discuss Syria, Afghanistan, and other regional issues next week and look at the “significant differences” between Washington and Ankara, US officials said.

The eastern Mediterranean, Syria, Iran, and the role that Turkey will play in Afghanistan as the United States withdraws from the country will be part of the “expansive agenda”.

On the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels, the meeting will also look for ways on how the United States and Turkey deal with some of their “significant differences on values and human rights and other issues”.

Ankara and Washington have been struggling to repair ties strained in recent years over several issues, including Turkey’s purchase of Russian defence systems, which resulted in US sanctions, policy differences in Syria, and Washington’s alarm over Ankara’s human rights track record.

The two NATO allies also have differing views in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Ankara’s oil and gas ambitions in the eastern Mediterranean putting in confrontation with Cyprus and Greece. (source agencies)