Turkey’s Cavusoglu says Blinken invited him for first talks in three years

ANKARA, April 7 (Reuters) – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday his U.S. counterpart Antony Blinken had invited him to talks on May 18 that would mark the first in three years between members of NATO who have been taking steps to improve for a long time. ties.

Ankara and Washington have clashed over several issues, including Turkey‘s purchase of Russian S-400 tusks, which triggered US sanctions, and Ankara’s withdrawal from an F-35 fighter jet program where it was buyer and manufacturer.

Ankara said the moves were unfair given that it was unable to procure missile defenses from NATO allies on satisfactory terms.

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Still, the two governments launched a joint mechanism this week to resolve frictions and boost cooperation, including a Turkish request to buy 40 F-16 jets made by Lockheed Martin and nearly 80 retrofit kits for its existing fleet. . Read more

Speaking in Brussels after a NATO meeting, Cavusoglu said the F-16 talks were going well and he welcomed reports that the US administration had sent a letter to Congress saying the sale would serve US and NATO interests. Read more

“In order to hold a meeting at the level of foreign ministers, Antony Blinken invited me to Washington on May 18, and we will assess that at this meeting,” he said.

Ankara and Washington are also at odds over policies in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Yet Turkey has stepped up its engagement with its Western allies since Russia invaded Ukraine. It has maritime borders and good relations with Russia and Ukraine, and its efforts to mediate the conflict have been well received in the West.

Cavusoglu added that he and Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly had agreed in Brussels to work to overcome an embargo imposed on Ankara that targeted certain equipment, notably for its Bayraktar TB2 armed drones. He sold the drones to Ukraine despite Russian objections.

He also discussed with Italy’s foreign minister efforts to relaunch the purchase of SAMP-T air defense systems from the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium, following talks between the Italian, French and Turkish leaders last month.

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Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Ali Kucukgocmen and Jonathan Spicer

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