First meeting underscores differences between Turkish and U.S. officials - report

The first high-level meeting between Turkish officials and the new U.S. administration underscored the poor relations between their respective countries, news outlet Kurdistan24 said on Friday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and new U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken held talks on the sidelines of Wednesday’s NATO foreign ministers conference, where they discussed a several contentious issues in bilateral relations.

The United States imposed sanctions on Turkey in December over the purchase of the Russian-made S-400  missile system, which U.S. officials say are incompatible with NATO membership.

Blinken “urged” Çavuşoğlu “not to retain” the missiles, Kurdistan24 said.

However, Çavuşoğlu dismissed Blinken’s call, telling reporters the S-400s were a “done deal”.

Turkey could now face a second round of U.S. sanctions, which would likely be harsher than those enacted under former President Donald Trump, according to Kurdistan24.

Blinken also raised the issue of human rights, the news outlet said.

Last week, Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul convention on women’s rights, a move described by the Biden administration as “deeply disappointing”.

Turkish states prosecutors also recently launched a legal case seeking the closure of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), leading the U.S. State Department to call on Turkey to respect freedom of expression. 

And the Biden administration was expected to take a tougher line on Turkey over violations of fundamental rights and freedoms, Kurdistan24 said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan “no longer enjoys the personal access he had to the White House under the Trump administration,” Aykan Erdemir, a former Turkish parliamentarian and now Senior Director of the Turkey program at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), told the news outlet.