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NATO must keep Turkey at the heart of transatlantic ties despite differences, says Blinken

Antony Blinken

It’s also no secret that Turkey is a longstanding and valued ally and one that, I believe, we have a strong interest in keeping anchored to NATO, and I believe that’s also in Turkey’s interest as well. I think NATO has demonstrated recently its effectiveness in dealing with some of the areas of disagreement, and in particular in the Eastern Med, serving as a vehicle for deconfliction, for de-escalation, for finding a way forward, and that’s a very positive example,” Blinken said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Brussels, March 24: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that having seen a period of internal divisions, the NATO alliance could emerge stronger and must keep Turkey at the heart of transatlantic ties.

Blinken said that, despite public differences with Ankara, the United States and NATO had a strong interest in keeping Turkey anchored in the alliance.

“It’s also no secret that Turkey is a longstanding and valued ally and one that, I believe, we have a strong interest in keeping anchored to NATO, and I believe that’s also in Turkey’s interest as well. I think NATO has demonstrated recently its effectiveness in dealing with some of the areas of disagreement, and in particular in the Eastern Med, serving as a vehicle for deconfliction, for de-escalation, for finding a way forward, and that’s a very positive example. But we have to keep – we have to keep working it. We’re determined to do that,” Blinken told an event at NATO headquarters, saying it was also in Ankara’s interest to remain in the alliance.

“It’s no secret that we have differences with Turkey, including over the S-400s and including certain that actions that it’s taken including in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Blinken added.

NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg also said that there exists some differences and concerns including the decision to buy the Russian air-defense system S-400. There are differences and disagreements regarding the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. “And I have also expressed my concerns in Ankara with the Turkish leadership on several issues, including the consequences of the decision to acquire S-400. At the same time, I strongly believe that NATO has to be a platform where allies also sit down together around the same table ,” Jens said.

Blinken also met Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on the sidelines of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

The meeting follows a phone conversation on Feb. 15 where the two top officials discussed bilateral relations, regional developments, the fight against terror groups including YPG/PKK and Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the Russian S-400 missile system, Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cavusoglu also met French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and discussed regional issues.

Cavusoglu said on Twitter: “We will host the Joint Economic and Trade Committee meeting and Business Forum. Our talks on regional issues, including Syria and Libya, will continue.”

The conflict in Syria has caused one of the largest humanitarian crises since World War 2, with extensive deaths, displacement, and destruction.

Briefing journalists at UN Headquarters on Wednesday, the UN chief stressed the need for countries to put aside their differences to support Syrians in finding a solution to the crisis.

“After a decade of conflict, in the middle of a global pandemic, and faced with a steady stream of new crises, Syria has fallen off the front page”, he said. “And yet the situation remains a living nightmare.”

Guterres said the world has watched Syria spiral into destruction and bloodshed in a conflict that has left no family there untouched.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died, millions have been displaced, and countless more remain illegally detained, disappeared or living in uncertainty.

Turkey and Russia support rival parties in Syria”s 10-year conflict. The countries reached a ceasefire deal last March that stopped a Russian-backed government offensive on Idlib, the last major rebel stronghold in war-torn Syria.

According to the UN-led roadmap for the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, President Mohamed Menfi, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, and the incoming administration are expected to lead the country to elections by Dec. 24, 2021.

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