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US, Turkey's presidential advisers discuss defense relationship, disagreements

Published: Updated:

Top advisers to US President Joe Biden and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed defense issues and how to resolve disagreements between the two countries, the White House said on Wednesday, days after Ankara threatened to expel US and nine other Western ambassadors.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin discussed a range of regional issues, including Afghanistan, the Middle East, the South Caucasus, and the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as the defense relationship.

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“They agreed on the importance of continued dialogue to manage disagreements and maintain constructive bilateral ties,” the White House said in a statement.

The advisers’ phone call comes after Erdogan had instructed the foreign ministry over the weekend to expel the ambassadors of the US, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and New Zealand.

Erdogan was infuriated over the 10 countries’ statement calling for the “urgent release” of philanthropist Osman Kavala, who has been imprisoned for four years, charged with financing protests in 2013 and involvement in the failed coup in 2016.

He withdrew his threat on Monday and said the envoys “took a step back and will be more careful in their statement about Turkey’s internal affairs.”

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said Sullivan and Kalin discussed the F-35 fighter jet program, but didn’t elaborate on the results of the discussion.

The US removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program in 2019 over its concerns because of Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.

Erdogan had said earlier this month that his country was in talks with the US to buy F-16 fighter jets instead of the F-35.

However, the US did not confirm that it offered Turkey the sale of F-16 fighter jets but said that it has not made Turkey a financing offer for the warplanes.

The Turkish president had also stressed that Ankara is determined to recoup $1.4 billion paid to the US for F-35 fighter jets Washington blocked it from buying.

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