Erdogan says relations with Biden off to poor start

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday he felt that relations with his United States (US) counterpart Joe Biden had “not gotten off to a good start” since the latter’s arrival in the White House.

“My wish is to have friendly and not hostile relations” with the US, the state news agency Anadolu quoted Erdogan as saying on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) general assembly in New York.

“But the way things are going between two North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies is currently not too auspicious,” he said.

He said he had “worked well” with previous US presidents, George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

“But I cannot say things have gotten off to a good start with Biden.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaking at United Nations headquarters. PHOTO: AP

The Turkish leader said he had been unhappy with Washington before Biden took office, notably regarding Ankara’s removal from the F-35 fighter project two years ago after Turkey agreed a multi-billion-dollar purchase of the S-400 Russian-made air defence system.

That deal led to US sanctions last year and to Turkey’s suspension from the F-35 programme.

Ankara had been due to as many as 100 of the stealth fighter jets, and several Turkish suppliers were involved in the construction. “We bought the F-35, paid USD1.4 billion and the F-35 were not delivered to us,” Erdogan said.

Erdogan said that Ankara would go “knocking on other doors” and that “Turkey purchases what it needs for its defence”.

Turning to Afghanistan and the instability which followed the recent US withdrawal and the Taleban takeover, Erdogan insisted that “it is the US which must pay the price” in case there is an massive exodus of Afghan citizens.