Biden, Erdogan Hold ‘Productive’ Talks But Announce No Breakthroughs

U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described their first face-to-face talks as heads of state as “productive” but did not announce any major breakthroughs in the relationship between the two countries. Biden told reporters after the meeting Monday on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels that the talks were “positive and productive” and he was “confident we’ll make real progress with Turkey.”  Erdogan characterized the talks as “productive and sincere.” “We think that there are no issues between U.S. and Turkey relationship that are unsolvable and that areas of cooperation for us are richer and larger than problems,” he said. The talks come at a time when the two NATO allies are at odds over a number of issues including Syria, Libya and the sale of Russian weapons to Turkey.  FILE – First parts of a Russian S-400 missile defense system are unloaded from a Russian plane near Ankara, Turkey, July 12, 2019.The United States sanctioned Turkey in December over its purchase of a Russian weapons system and recently criticized human rights abuses in Turkey. Turkey has called for the United States to end its support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, which Turkey says are linked to the Kurdish insurgency in Turkey. In April, Biden angered Turkey by recognizing the Ottoman Empire’s massacre of 1.5 million Armenians from roughly 1915 to 1917 as genocide. Turkey denies the killings amounted to genocide. Erdogan said the Armenian issue was not discussed during Monday’s 45-minute meeting. On the topic of Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, Erdogan indicated no progress had been made.  “On the issue of S-400s, I told (Biden) the same thing I had in the past,” Erdogan said. Erdogan said he and Biden also discussed Afghanistan following reports that Turkey could take on a role to secure the international airport in Kabul after the United States withdraws its troops from the country.  He said Turkey would need “diplomatic, logistic and financial assistance” from the United States if it were to maintain troops in Afghanistan.  Henri Barkey, with the Council on Foreign Relations, told VOA that Turkey was using the Afghanistan offer to win favor from the United States and NATO and hoping to cash in on the goodwill later. He noted that the meeting did not give the leaders much time “given the complexities of the issues.” Other meetingsAlso on Monday, Erdogan met separately with French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.  Turkey and Greece have been at odds over boundary disputes and rights to natural resources.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the sidelines of the NATO summit, in Brussels, Belgium, June 14, 2021. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Presidential Press Office/Handout via Reuters)Erdogan said he and Mitsotakis agreed to call each other over a “direct line” when future problems arise. Macron said after his meeting with Erdogan that the two countries agreed to work on preserving the cease-fire in Libya and the departure of foreign fighters in the country.  Macron tweeted after the meeting that he wants to “move forward” with Turkey. Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report.