Connect with us

World

US, Turkey kick off comprehensive talks to explore improving troubled ties

US, Turkey kick off comprehensive talks to explore improving troubled ties

Published

on

US, Turkey kick off comprehensive talks to explore improving troubled ties

The US and Turkey are set to kick off comprehensive talks on Thursday to discuss if the NATO allies can move beyond deep rooted disagreements over issues such as Syria and Ankara’s close ties with Russia.

Senior US and Turkish officials are set to meet at the State Department for several rounds of talks focusing on topics spanning Syria, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, defense cooperation, energy, counterterrorism and the Israel-Hamas war.

The conversations, dubbed the Strategic Mechanism, will set the stage for a meeting on Friday between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.

Ties between the US and Turkey have drifted away from a strategic partnership in recent years as disagreements between the two long-standing treaty allies have widened.

Advertisement

Turkey’s 2019 acquisition of Russian S-400 defense missile system triggered US sanctions on Ankara and led to its removal from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program. Meanwhile, Turkey has remained deeply troubled over US support in northern Syria to Kurdish militia that it sees as an extension of the PKK, a militant group it considers as a terrorist organisation.

The US was also annoyed by Ankara’s 20 month-long delay in approving Sweden’s NATO membership, which took place in January. The US Congress has since approved the $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, long sought by the Turkish government.

Since then, US officials have begun describing a desire on both sides to deepen conversations in areas where the two sides can cooperate.

“This is probably going to be the meatiest and most positive strategic mechanism that we’ve had in years,” a senior US official said of the upcoming conversations.

In late January, US Senators from President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party Jeanne Shaheen and Chris Murphy visited Turkey and met with Erdogan. Murphy then said there was now “significant momentum” in the bilateral ties.

Advertisement

In an interview with Reuters, Shaheen described their visit as “quite positive in terms of the potential to reset US-Turkey relations going forward.”

TOUGH CONVERSATIONS

However, there is no illusion the two-day visit will solve all long-running strains between the two allies and some tough conversations are expected.

The hardest talks will likely take place on the way forward in Syria and Ankara’s strong economic ties with Russia, which Washington says has helped the Kremlin circumvent some U.S. sanctions on Moscow.

Shaheen said she discussed with Erdogan Ankara’s relationship with Moscow, arguing it is not in Turkey’s interest to have Russian President Vladimir Putin “feel like he can take over whatever country he would like”, an apparent reference to its invasion of Ukraine.

Advertisement

“The potential is much greater for the United States and Turkey to work together than for Turkey and Russia to work together,” Shaheen said.

Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Moscow even as it has criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It has managed to maintain close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv throughout the conflict.

It held early talks between the sides and helped broker a deal for grain shipments from Ukraine.

In the meantime, its trade with Moscow boomed before a US executive order in December complicated some Turkish payments for Russian oil as well as Russian payments for a broad range of Turkish exports.

Senior US officials repeatedly traveled to Turkey to warn Turkish companies against the risk of running afoul with US sanctions.

Advertisement

“I think we’re seeing a lot better cooperation there,” US Ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake said in the same interview.

On Syria, any breakthrough will likely remain elusive after years of disagreements.

Washington’s Syria policy is focused on fighting against Islamic State remnants and training partnered forces.

Spearheaded by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and including Arab fighters, the Syrian Democratic Forces militia has been a major partner for the US-led coalition against Islamic State over the last decade.

Turkey wants the US to stop its support for the Kurdish militia.

Advertisement

“Obviously we see things different in some respects but…our interests align when it comes to defeating ISIS,” Flake said. “We’re trying to build on the areas that we have a collective interest despite some differences we have there.” 

World

Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM’s removal over minister’s appointment

Published

on

By

Thai court accepts complaint seeking PM's removal over minister's appointment

Thailand’s Constitutional Court accepted a complaint on Thursday seeking to remove Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin over his cabinet appointment of a lawyer who served jail time, in a new legal setback for the government.

The decision comes after three ministers quit in recent weeks as the government battles to jumpstart an underperforming economy and find funds to deliver on a delayed election promise of cash handouts for 50 million people.

The court chose not to suspend Srettha from duty pending a verdict, as was sought by 40 senators who had complained Pichit Chuenban fell short of moral and ethical standards for ministers set out in the constitution.

Srettha has 15 days to file his defence in court. “The prime minister is focused and determined, this will not affect his work,” said government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke.

Advertisement

Pichit’s qualifications prior to becoming a minister in the prime minister’s office had been carefully vetted and the appointment was in line with the law, he added.

For decades a close aide of the politically influential Shinawatra family, Pichit resigned on Tuesday in an effort to insulate Srettha from the court case.

He had been jailed for six months in 2008 for contempt of court after being accused of a bid to bribe court officials with 2 million baht ($55,218) placed in a grocery paper bag, which he denied. His law license was suspended for five years.

INFLUENTIAL CLIENTS

As a lawyer, Pichit fought, and lost, big court cases against former premiers Yingluck Shinawatra and billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, who has been a towering figure in Thailand for more than two decades.

Advertisement

Thaksin is a close ally of Srettha and founder of his ruling Pheu Thai party, which together with its predecessors has won all but one Thai election since 2001.

The court gave no timeframe for a decision in the case.

If it dismisses Srettha, a new government must be formed and Pheu Thai would need to put forward a new candidate for premier to be voted on by a parliament in which it is not the biggest party.

VReal estate mogul Srettha was elected by the legislature in August last year after weeks of political deadlock, following a deal with parties and lawmakers allied with the royalist military, which staged coups against Shinawatra-backed governments in 2006 and 2014.

Government critics say Pichit got the job thanks to his close ties with Thaksin. The tycoon still holds significant sway in politics, despite officially being retired and having spent 15 years in self-imposed exile until his return last year.

Advertisement

The government has said Pichit was picked because he was suitable.

Thaksin, who was convicted of conflicts of interest and abuse of power and was released from detention on parole in February, will learn next week if he is to be prosecuted for an alleged insult to the powerful monarchy.

He has denied wrongdoing in the case over comments made in an interview a decade ago.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

World

Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

Published

on

By

Putin to hold two-day talks with Lukashenko in Belarus, says Kremlin

 Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold wide-ranging talks with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Thursday and Friday, the Kremlin said.

Russia and Belarus are close allies, with Minsk set to take part in exercises aimed at simulating preparations for the launch of tactical nuclear weapons this month.

Belarus has offered Russia logistical support during its conflict with Ukraine, with Russian forces entering Ukraine from Belarusian territory during their initial offensive against Kyiv in February 2022.

Separately, Belarusian state news agency Belta reported on Thursday that Lukashenko had appointed Pavel Muraveyko as the new chief of the Belarusian army’s general staff. 

Advertisement

Continue Reading

World

Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Published

on

By

Thai hospital says 20 people from Singapore Airlines flight remain in intensive care

Twenty people who were aboard a Singapore Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence and diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing on Tuesday remain in intensive care, a hospital official said on Thursday.

Of the 40 people on the flight still under treatment, 22 patients have spinal cord injuries and six have brain and skull injuries, Adinun Kittiratanapaibool, Director of Bangkok’s Samitivej Srinakarin Hospital told reporters.

Adinun had said 41 people were still under treatment, but later said one person had been discharged. One passenger died of a suspected heart attack and dozens were injured after Singapore Airlines flight SQ321 encountered what the airline described as sudden, extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar on Tuesday. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © GLOBAL TIMES PAKISTAN