Ex-Senator Flake becomes U.S. Ambassador to Turkey

Former Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) walks through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

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ANKARA, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Former Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake officially became U.S. ambassador to Turkey on Wednesday at a critical time for NATO allies, after presenting his letter of confidence to President Tayyip Erdogan .

A vocal critic of former US President Donald Trump during his term in the Senate from 2013 to 2019, Flake arrived in Ankara earlier this month to succeed David Satterfield, who is now US special envoy for the Horn of L ‘Africa. Read more

It begins work as NATO members and other Western states consider responses to Russia in the event of military action against Ukraine. Ankara is close to Kiev and Moscow, has offered to mediate in the crisis and opposes sanctions against Russia.

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Relations between Washington and Ankara have soured in recent years over issues including Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 systems, legal and civil rights cases, and political differences in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.

After Trump and Erdogan had a warm personal bond, President Joe Biden took a colder approach to Turkey. One of his first steps in the White House was to recognize the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide – a stance that infuriated Turkey.

The governments have since sought to put aside their differences and are in talks over conflicts in Libya, Ethiopia and Afghanistan, where Turkey is considering potentially operating Kabul International Airport with Qatar.

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Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Jonathan Spicer

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