US State Secretary Blinken in Turkey, before heading to Athens on Tuesday

US State Secretary Blinken in Turkey, before heading to Athens on Tuesday

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is visiting Turkey on Sunday, as part of a tour that includes Germany and Greece on February 16-22.

Following a State Department schedule, the State Department head attended the Munich Security Conference as of February 16, and will conclude his tour with meetings in Greece on February 21-22.

In Turkey, Blinken was expected to arrive at Incirlik air base and then fly over the region of Adana to see the devastation by the February 6 earthquake that has cost the lives of over 46,000 people in both Turkey and Syria. The earthquake has left over 1 million people homeless, and Blinken will discuss how Washington could help Ankara manage the aftermath. He will also address the issues of Turkey holding back its approval of Sweden’s and Finland’s applications to NATO.

On Monday, the US official is expected to travel to Ankara to meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and other senior Turkish officials, while he is also expected to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to sources familiar with his program. With them he will discuss continued US support to Turkey and the Turkish people after the devastating earthquakes, as well as ways to further strengthen the US partnership with Turkey as a valued NATO ally. Blinken will also thank the government of Turkey for its support for cross-border aid to affected areas of Syria.

Following the earthquake, the United States sent a search and rescue team to Turkey, as well as medical supplies, cement-breaking machinery, and an additional 85-million-dollar humanitarian aid that also includes Syria.

Arriving last in Athens, Blinken is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Mitsotakis, Foreign Affairs Minister Dendias, and main opposition leader Alexis Tsipras to discuss defense cooperation, energy security, and the two countries’ shared commitment to defend democracy. He will also launch the fourth round of the US-Greece Strategic Dialogue on February 21. [AMNA]

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