U.S., Turkish presidential advisers discuss defense relationship, disagreements

FILE PHOTO: Jake Sullivan, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's choice to be his national security adviser, speaks as President-elect Biden announces his national security nominees and appointees at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., November 24, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

Top advisers to U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke on Wednesday about defense issues and how to resolve disagreements, the White House said, days after Turkey’s leader threatened to expel U.S. and other ambassadors.

Erdogan over the weekend ordered 10 envoys to be declared “persona non grata” for seeking the release of jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala. He withdrew the threat on Monday, saying the envoys had stepped back and would be more careful. read more

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Erdogan adviser Ibrahim Kalin discussed a range of issues including defense ties, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the South Caucasus and the eastern Mediterranean, the White House said.

“They also agreed on the importance of continued dialogue to manage disagreements and maintain constructive bilateral ties,” the White House said in an allusion to the diplomatic dispute.

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said Sullivan and Kalin discussed the F-35 fighter jet program, from which Washington expelled Ankara over its purchase of Russian defenses, and Turkey’s request to purchase F-16 jets and modernization kits.

The U.S. and Turkish defense ministers also spoke by phone on Wednesday to discuss cooperation, as well as regional defense and security issues, Turkey’s defense ministry said.

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