Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday told US counterpart Joe Biden that mediating the Ukraine-Russia war was important to Ankara after the two sides’ top diplomats held talks in Turkey, Agence France-Presse reported.
Ankara has close ties with Moscow and Kyiv and hosted a landmark meeting between Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov in the southern resort city of Antalya on Thursday.
The talks failed to achieve a breakthrough on a ceasefire or humanitarian issues but highlighted Turkey’s role as a mediator in the two-week-old war.
Erdoğan said being able to talk to both sides and being a “facilitator” in the search for a resolution to the conflict mattered to Turkey, during a 45-minute telephone call with Biden, according to the Turkish presidency.
The White House said President Biden “expressed appreciation” for Turkey’s “efforts to support a diplomatic resolution to the conflict” and that both leaders “reaffirmed their strong support for the government and people of Ukraine.”
According to the Turkish presidency’s statement, Erdoğan also requested the lifting of “unfair sanctions” Washington placed on its fellow NATO member in 2019 after Turkey purchased a Russian defense system.
Ankara seeks to acquire 40 F-16 fighter jets and the spare parts needed to maintain and modernize its existing F-16 fleet.
Turkey spent $1.4 billion when it ordered F-35 stealth fighter jets, but the planes were not delivered after the US froze the contract in 2019 over Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 anti-missile defense system.
The system is seen as a threat to F-35 jets, prompting Washington to exclude Turkey from its cutting-edge military program.
Turkey has delivered combat drones to its ally Ukraine but also wants to maintain good relations with Russia, on which it depends for its tourism sector and wheat and energy supplies.