What Erdogan hopes to achieve during meeting with Biden at NATO

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he and US President Joe Biden must use the meeting on Monday to move from past troubles.

Erdogan's agenda at NATO

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he and US President Joe Biden must use a meeting on Monday to move on from past troubles, including a bitter dispute over Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.

Before travelling to Monday's NATO summit in Brussels, Erdogan said he expected an "unconditional approach" from Washington when he sat down with Biden for their first face-to-face session since last year's US elections.

He said he would also raise the White House's recognition of the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the then Ottoman Empire as "genocide", a move which had infuriated Ankara, and the U.S. removal of Turkey from an F-35 fighter jet programme.

(Photograph:AFP)

Erdogan's awkward phone call with Biden

The Turkish president, who relied on a close personal relationship with Biden's predecessor Donald Trump to iron out past crises, has been frustrated by the more critical and distanced approach from the new US administration.

Erdogan had to wait three months after Biden's inauguration for their first contact, an awkward phone call in April when the US president informed him of the genocide-recognition plan.

"We need to put Turkey-US ties on the table first-hand," Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul's airport

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Turkey's Ottoman connection

The cooler ties between the two NATO members underline an array of disputes including over U.S. support for Syrian fighters deemed terrorists by Turkey and more vocal U.S. criticism of Ankara's human rights record.

"An ally country taking such a stance on an issue that has nothing to do with NATO, the issue of Armenians, has disturbed and upset us. It is not possible to go on without reminding (Biden of) this," Erdogan said.

Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces in World War One, but denies the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute genocide.

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'United States that has not kept its promises'

The United States cancelled the sale of 100 F-35s to Ankara after the S-400 purchase in 2019. Erdogan has accused Washington of breaking promises over the alternative U.S. Patriot missiles.

"Unfortunately there is a Turkey that has realised its promises and a United States that has not kept its (promises) or abided by the contract," Erdogan said of the programme.

"We must see an unconditional approach from the United States, without any 'buts', that will add to the cooperation and strength of NATO," he added.

Washington says the Russian S-400s are incompatible with NATO defences and the F-35 fighter jets, concerns Ankara has rejected.

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Turkey's human rights record

For the Turkish president, who relied on a close personal relationship with Biden's predecessor Donald Trump to iron out crises, the new approach from the White House - more critical and more distanced - has been a source of frustration.

Ahead of Monday's meeting in Brussels, when they will address disputes ranging from NATO member Turkey's purchase of Russian arms to US support for Syrian fighters deemed terrorists by Turkey, Erdogan said ties with the Biden White House have been more strained than with any US president of the last 20 years.

The Biden administration has stepped up criticism of Turkey's human rights record, seeking the release of businessman Osman Kavala, who has been detained three years while on trial in connection with 2013 anti-government protests, a case which critics say is emblematic of Turkey's crackdown on dissent.

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Erdogan's Afghanistan dilemma

One area where Erdogan had hoped to showcase a central Turkish role in the NATO alliance was in Afghanistan, where Turkey offered to guard and operate Kabul airport to secure access to the country after the US-prompted NATO withdrawal.

That plan may be scuppered by a challenge from the Taliban who, after two decades of fighting Western-led troops, say Turkey must leave along with other NATO forces.

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Ankara hopes for successful talks with Biden

Still, there are areas of common ground including efforts to reach a political solution in Libya and opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

The Turkish Lira firmed on Friday on hopes of progress at the talks, where Ankara will propose reviving several joint dialogue groups with Washington.

"Why shouldn't a nice period with Biden start at the NATO summit?" said a senior official at Turkey's presidency. "Will it be an easy meeting? Not very much, but nobody is without hope either."

(Photograph:AFP)

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