Blinken says US will back quake-hit Turkey ‘for as long as it takes’ on visit

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that Washington will support Turkey “for as long as it takes” after earthquakes rocked the country two weeks ago, in a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara.

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Blinken added that Turkey’s clear voice in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty has been critical.

“The United States and Turkey do not agree on every issue but it is a partnership that has withstood against challenges,” Blinken said.

Blinken also visited the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Urban Search and Rescue Team in Turkey on Monday to thank them for their efforts in helping other rescue teams in the quake-hit country find survivors of the disastrous 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey and parts of Syria on February 6.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards a plane at Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey February 19, 2023. (Reuters)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken waves as he boards a plane at Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey February 19, 2023. (Reuters)

“Thank you for your extraordinary efforts and everything you do to answer the call, almost on a moment’s notice,” he told the team at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, in a statement shared by the State Department.

“I think you all know better than anyone this is going to be a massive, long-term effort. The immediate search and rescue effort was extraordinary. We’re now in the recovery phase. We’ll eventually get to the rebuilding phase.

“It’s going to take time; it’s going to take a huge amount of resources. We’re determined to do everything we can to help, to help the people of Türkiye, to help people in Syria as best we can who were so affected by this. And what I most want the people of Türkiye to know is that the United States stands with them and will be with them to get through this for as long as it takes.”

Also on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there was no need to wait for a disaster and difficult times to improve relations with the US, speaking after talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Cavusoglu, alongside Blinken, told a news conference that it was not possible for Turkey to purchase US F-16 warplanes with pre-conditions and that he believed the issue can be overcome if the US administration maintains a decisive stance.

With Reuters

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