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‘We’re planning to have a good conversation’: Biden says ahead of Erdogan meeting

President Joe Biden arrived at La Nuvola Sunday morning for his second day at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome, which started with a face-to-face meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

In the meeting, Biden brought up concerns over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system and talked about the importance of human rights.  

‘We’re planning to have a good conversation,’ Biden said as he and the Turkish leader posed for a photo at the top of the gathering. 

President Joe Biden (right) and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan (left) pose for a photo ahead of their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 in Rome Sunday morning 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and President Joe Biden (right) in their bilateral meeting Sunday morning, which kicked off Biden's second day of the G20 in Rome

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) and President Joe Biden (right) in their bilateral meeting Sunday morning, which kicked off Biden’s second day of the G20 in Rome 

Biden was asked if the administration would sell F-16s to Turkey, which American lawmakers have warned him against. The president was also asked if he would bring up human rights in the meeting and if Turkey had gotten too cozy with the Russians. 

 He ignored those queries and said ‘thank you’ to reporters. 

The meeting between the leaders lasted for just under an hour.  

In a readout of the meeting provided by the White House, it was unclear if the sale of F-16s came up, however the president expressed that there were ‘U.S. concerns over Turkey’s possession of the Russian S-400 missile system,’ which had alarmed lawmakers enough to push Biden to stop any sales of the Lockheed Martin-made fighter jets.  

Turkey wanted to buy 40 F-16s and 80 modernization kits for their existing warplanes, Reuters reported. 

‘President Biden underscored his desire to maintain constructive relations, expand areas of cooperation, and manage our disagreements effectively,’ the readout also said.   

The meeting comes after Erdogan backed down on a threat to expel 10 foreign ambassadors, including from the U.S., after he called them ‘persona non grata’ for a statement they released in support of jailed philanthropist Osman Kavala.  

President Joe Biden (upper right) was joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lower right), while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (upper left) had Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attend

President Joe Biden (upper right) was joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lower right), while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (upper left) had Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attend

Kavala has been in prison since 2017 and was accused of conspiring with an American professor and the CIA to spy on the Turkish government, organize protests in 2013 and help plan a coup attempt in 2016 that left 250 people dead. 

Kavala has denied the charges. 

In the meeting with Erdogan, Biden ’emphasized the importance of strong democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and the rule of law for peace and prosperity.’  

The due also spoke about Afghanistan, which the Biden administration has taken heat for, after a messy pull-out of 20-year war.  

Biden ‘expressed appreciation for Turkey’s nearly two decades of contributions to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.’  

President Joe Biden (left) shakes the hand of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (right) as the G20 leaders meet for the first time in-person in two years. Standing in the middle is Democratic Republic of Congo's President and African Union Chair Felix Tshisekedi

President Joe Biden (left) shakes the hand of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (right) as the G20 leaders meet for the first time in-person in two years. Standing in the middle is Democratic Republic of Congo’s President and African Union Chair Felix Tshisekedi 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (center) and President Joe Biden (right) are pictured as they arrive Saturday at the G20 in Rome

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left), British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (center) and President Joe Biden (right) are pictured as they arrive Saturday at the G20 in Rome

‘The leaders discussed the political process in Syria, the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in need, elections in Libya, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, and diplomatic efforts in the South Caucasus,’ the readout also said.   

Biden was originally expected to meet with Erdogan at COP26, the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, where he will travel next.

However, because of the dispute over expelling diplomats, the meeting almost didn’t happen. 

‘I’m not actually even sure we would have had the meeting if he had gone ahead and expelled,’ the senior White House official told reporters in Rome Saturday night. ‘Certainly the president will indicate that we need to find a way to avoid crises like that one going forward.’ 

‘Precipitous action is not going to benefit the U.S.-Turkey partnership and alliance,’ the official added. 

Upon arrival at La Nuvola, ‘the cloud,’ in Rome on Saturday, where G20 leaders participated in their first in-person meeting in two years, Biden warmly greeted Erdogan, before the principles posed for their so-called ‘family picture.’ 

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