Biden says he praised Turkey’s Erdogan in phone call

President Biden said on Monday he had spoken to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and congratulated him on winning a third term as head of Turkey.

Mr Biden also told reporters that he and Mr Erdogan planned to speak again next week to discuss the Turkish leader’s opposition to Sweden’s bid to join the Treaty Organization. North Atlantic.

Sweden and Finland – long-time neutral nations – asked to join NATO’s defensive alliance following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last year. Because all NATO members must acquiesce to any country’s application for membership, any nation has a veto over the aspirations of new members.

Mr Erdogan has previously used the prerogative to block offers from the two nations to join the alliance, but he relented to allow Finland’s request to proceed last month.

Yet he continued to block Sweden’s request to be added to the now 31-member alliance, with some observers blaming his actions on Stockholm’s refusal to quell protests against his rule by the large Kurdish diaspora there. lives. Others have suggested that his intransigence stems from a desire to use Sweden’s NATO offer as a leverage point to force the United States to sell its government F-16 multirole fighter jet and associated weapons after Turkey’s ousting from the F-35 program following its decision to purchase a Russian-made surface-to-air missile system.

Since taking office, the US president has had a strained relationship with Mr. Erdogan, who during his years in power nearly eliminated all independent media and suppressed his political opposition while working to strengthen ties of Turkey with authoritarian and far-right nationalist governments. , including that of Russia.

Mr Biden’s belated congratulations to Mr Erdogan come after his predecessor, Donald Trump, publicly praised the Turkish strongman on his Truth Social website.

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, he regularly sought to smooth relations with autocratic leaders such as Mr. Erdogan, Hungarian President Viktor Orban, China’s Xi Jinping and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Mr Trump’s embrace of the Turkish leader stands in stark contrast to other NATO figures, including former Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who has previously called Mr Erdogan a “dictator”.

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