ISTANBUL, Turkey (Agence France-Presse)—The United States is committed to helping Turkey be strong and also democratic, despite differences on key policy issues, U.S. Ambassador to Ankara John Bass said on April 27 ahead of face-to-face talks next month between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump.
Relations between the United States and Turkey were bedeviled under former President Barack Obama by a series of disputes over Syria and the July 2016 coup attempt, although Ankara is hopeful for better ties under Trump.
Pro-government media in Turkey and even ministers have often charged the U.S. with meddling in the country and even aiding the coup attempt, which Washington has vehemently denied.
“It is manifestly in our national interest for Turkey to be strong, peaceful, prosperous and democratic,” Bass said in a speech at the Atlantic Council Istanbul summit.
“There are obviously some challenges to helping everyone in this society achieve that reality in the future [and] we have got some differences… But dealing with those differences and realizing those goals by working more closely together and pulling in the same direction…is an essential piece of what we do in diplomacy,” he added.
Trump surprised many observers by congratulating Erdoğan on his win on the April 16 referendum. The European Union and even the U.S. State Department were more circumspect in their response.
A key issue when Erdoğan holds talks with Trump in the United States in mid-May will be Syria, after Washington expressed deep concern over Turkish air strikes April 25 on the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Meanwhile, Erdoğan is also pressing Trump to hand over Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based Islamic preacher blamed for the attempted takeover.
“For very understandable reasons these differences draw a lot of attention,” said Bass.
“All of that attention obscures a deeper reality: That we all need each other and we are stronger when we work together and pull in the same direction. You might not see this based on press coverage, but it remains the truth that United States wants Turkey to succeed,” he added.