Turkey hopes for 'good start' with Biden
Turkey hopes for a positive start with US President-elect Joe Biden, a senior official said on Wednesday, after pre-election friction as the Democrat criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We believe we can have a good start with the Biden administration," Ibrahim Kalin, Erdogan's spokesman, told a virtual event at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Biden "knows our president personally" and "I believe he and his team appreciate Turkey's geopolitical and strategic value," Kalin said from Azerbaijan, where he was visiting.
Biden caused a stir during the campaign by telling The New York Times that the United States should embolden rivals to defeat the "autocrat" Erdogan.
Turkey has had a turbulent relationship with Donald Trump's administration but Erdogan has also formed a bond with the outgoing president, who has spoken fondly of him.
One key area of concern has been Turkey's purchase from Moscow of the S-400 missile defense system, which led the United States to kick out the NATO ally from the F-35 fighter-jet program, saying that participation was incompatible with adopting Russian technology.
"We believe that from a technical, military point of view, that issue can be addressed," Kalin said.
"But we also know that it's no longer a technical military issue. It was conceived by the Congress as a political issue," he said.
A sweeping annual defense bill, a version of which was approved Tuesday by the House of Representatives, would require sanctions on Turkey over the S-400 purchase.
Kalin also warned that Biden needed to pay attention to "two pressing national security issues" for Turkey.
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He called for an end to all US support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, alleging that they are indistinguishable from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) inside Turkey.
Trump last year ordered a pullback of US troops from northern Syria after pressure from Erdogan, sparking fierce criticism at home that he was abandoning Kurdish allies who led the battle to defeat extremists from the Islamic State movement.
Kalin also renewed demands that the United States extradite Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, an Erdogan ally turned foe whom the Turkish leader accuses of orchestrating a failed 2016 coup attempt.