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Erdoğan Meets Biden at NATO Summit in Vilnius

Biden and Erdoğan at the NATO summit
Biden and Erdoğan at the NATO summit in Vilnius. Credit: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan / Twitter

On Tuesday evening, US President Joe Biden met with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the margins of the NATO summit held in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The pair met after a breakthrough was made in negotiations surrounding Sweden’s NATO membership bid. Turkey had previously prevented Sweden from joining, but Erdoğan has now agreed to give Swedish accession his support.

The two leaders discussed bilateral relations, defense, and security, as well as Washington’s decision to allow the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara after months of diplomatic wrangling.

What did Erdoğan and Biden discuss at the NATO summit?

During the meeting, Erdoğan expressed his gratitude to the US president for extending congratulations on his successful election, which involved a runoff that prompted certain officials to consider a more cautious approach to Turkey’s relationship.

“Thank you. I look forward to being with you in the next five years, Mr. President,” Biden can be seen telling his Turkish counterpart during a clip of the meeting that was publicly released online.

“And with the forthcoming elections, I would like to take this opportunity to also wish you the best of luck,” Erdoğan responded.

Naturally, not much of the meeting has been made public, since the pair discussed important defense and security issues. The NATO summit takes place against the backdrop of the continued war in Ukraine, which has been the alliance’s focus since Russia invaded in February last year.

The Turkish president later commented on Twitter “In our meeting, we discussed our bilateral relations and cooperation opportunities in the field of security. I wish our contacts to be beneficial for our country.”

Major diplomatic developments

Significant diplomatic developments have transpired in the buildup to the NATO summit. Chiefly, Sweden is now set to join the alliance and it appears that Turkey will finally acquire F-16 fighter jets from the US.

On Monday, Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO announced that Turkey has given the green light for Sweden to join the alliance after months of diplomatic wrangling over the issue.

Describing it as a “historic step”, Stoltenberg said that Sweden’s NATO accession would contribute significantly to the alliance’s strength and security.

“This is good for Sweden, Sweden will become a full member of the alliance. It’s good for Turkey because Turkey is a NATO ally that will benefit from a stronger NATO. And then, of course, it’s good for the whole alliance,” Stoltenberg explained.

Prior to this development, President Biden revealed on Sunday that Washington’s strategy to get Turkey to approve Sweden’s membership would be to offer the sale of F-16s to Ankara in return.

“Turkey is looking to modernize F16 aircraft. And (Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos) Mitsotakis in Greece is also looking for some help. So what I’m trying to do honestly is to achieve a consortium where we strengthen NATO in terms of the military capability of both Greece and Turkey to allow Sweden to join the Alliance,” Biden said.

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