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Senior US official in Turkey to discuss regional tensions, Erdogan-Biden summit

The expected visit of the Turkish president to the White House, along with the escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran, intensifies diplomatic activity between Washington and Ankara.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) takes part in a meeting with Turkey's Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan (R).

ANKARA — Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with Acting Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs John Bass on Monday, as diplomatic activity between Ankara and Washington ramps up ahead of the Turkish president’s expected visit to the White House.

In addition to laying the groundwork for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s upcoming meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in early May, Fidan and Bass also discussed regional conflicts, including the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, as well as the situation in Syria, Turkish public broadcaster TRT reported, citing Turkish diplomatic sources. Bass is in Turkey on a two-day visit and will then travel to Italy, another NATO partner.  

After the meeting, Bass noted that the pair discussed the “importance of the safety of civilians and aid workers in Gaza” as well as “support for Ukraine’s democracy and freedom" and "deepening counterterrorism cooperation” between the two countries.

“[Turkey] is a key Ally and partner with whom we communicate and cooperate on the most important regional and global issues,” he wrote on the social platform X. 

Bass' visit follows Fidan's first official bilateral visit to Washington last month, during which he and Blinken agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries on a host of issues, including terrorism, defense and energy.

Among the issues discussed in Monday’s meeting was energy, according to Turkish diplomatic sources briefing the press. 

While neither side explicitly mentioned Iran by name, Tehran’s unprecedented attack on Israel Sunday night was highly likely among the agenda items concerning regional developments that Fidan and Bass discussed. 

Turkish officials revealed over the weekend that Turkey served as a mediator in the escalation, channeling Tehran’s and Washington’s expectations to each other.

During a phone call on Sunday, Blinken thanked Fidan “for his ongoing engagement to prevent further escalation in the region,” according to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller. 

Turkey-US relations took a positive turn after Ankara ratified Sweden’s NATO membership in January, ending its almost two-year-long reservation. The security alliance's expansion became a top priority in foreign policy discussions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.