Erdogan postpones tentative White House visit, sources say

Erdogan postpones tentative White House visit, sources say

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan postponed a White House meeting with President Joe Biden, a source familiar with the situation and a Turkish official has said of a visit that had been tentatively planned for May 9.

A new date will soon be set, the Turkish official said, requesting anonymity. The source familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was unclear what prompted the postponement.

A US official noted that the meeting between the NATO allies had never been officially announced.

Representatives for the White House and the US State Department had no immediate comment. Erdogan’s office also had no immediate comment on the postponement, reported earlier by Bloomberg.

The meeting would have been the first bilateral visit to Washington since 2019 when Erdogan met with then President Donald Trump, a Republican. He and Biden have met a few times at international summits and spoken by phone since the Democratic US president took office in January 2021.

Ties between the US and Turkey have been long strained by differences on a range of issues. While they have thawed since Ankara ratified Sweden’s NATO membership bid earlier this year, tensions persist over Syria and Russia and the war in Gaza.

Erdogan visited neighboring Iraq this week. Last weekend, he met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul, the first meeting between Erdogan and a Hamas delegation headed by Haniyeh since Israel began its military offensive in the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ October 7 attack.

In a speech in Istanbul on Friday, Erdogan referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “the butcher of Gaza.”

“My forebears served Jerusalem for 400 years; their legacy cannot be erased,” Erdogan told the League of Parliamentarians for al-Quds (Jerusalem), hearkening back to the Ottoman era

Anyone looking for “modern pharaohs need not look far, just look at those who have mercilessly killed 35,000 Palestinians in the last 203 days,” he said, referring to Israel’s months-long offensive on the Gaza Strip.

“Netanyahu, like villains before him, has etched his name in history with shame as the butcher of Gaza,” he added. [Reuters/Anadolu]

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