Biden and Erdogan discuss economic and defense priorities

US President Joe Biden congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the agreement reached with the Swedish prime minister over Sweden's NATO membership, according to the White House. They discussed defence priorities and regional stability and security at the NATO Summit.

Biden and Erdogan met at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Tuesday.

The leaders “discussed efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperation, welcoming the latest round of discussions in the strategic mechanism and exchanging views on defense and economic priorities,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting.

“They also discussed regional issues of shared interest, including their enduring support for Ukraine and the importance of preserving stability in the Aegean,” it added.

Erdogan later took to Twitter to share his perspective, stating, “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.”

Biden spoke with Erdogan from Air Force One for nearly an hour on Sunday in a bid to break the impasse and avoid an embarrassing failure at the Vilnius summit. Erdogan abruptly dropped his opposition late Monday on the eve of the NATO get-together.

For months, Erdogan insisted on a crackdown in Sweden against members of Kurdish movements outlawed in Turkey, something the Swedish government says it has now done.

But speculation mounted over what other concessions Turkey extracted to give its green light.

Erdogan had demanded at the last minute that approval for Sweden in NATO would depend on Turkey being able to renew stalled membership talks with the European Union.

Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, stressed Tuesday that the US president has “been clear and unequivocal for months that he’s supported the transfer of F-16s,” seeing this as in the interests of NATO.

“He has placed no caveats or conditions on that in his public and private comments over the past few months. And he intends to move forward with that transfer in consultation with Congress,” he continued.

The White House is now “actively engaging” with Congress, where there has been significant opposition to allowing the sale, according to a source.

Sullivan said “we will work with the Congress on the appropriate timing for getting” the warplanes to Turkey. But he could not “speculate on the precise day it’s going to happen.”

The meeting came at a critical juncture as the NATO summit unfolded against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

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