One day after Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu accused the United States of being complicit in a deadly bombing in İstanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday met with US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Monday refused to accept condolences conveyed by the United States for a terrorist attack in İstanbul on Sunday, which left six people dead and injured dozens of others.
“We do not accept the US embassy’s message of condolence. We reject it,” Soylu said in televised comments, slamming the US support for Kurdish militant groups in northern Syria, which Turkey blames for Sunday’s tragedy.
In a readout, the White House said Biden during his meeting with Erdoğan in Bali expressed “deep condolences” for the deaths of six people in the bomb attack, underlining that “we stand with our NATO ally.”
There was no reference to Soylu’s accusations in the White House readout.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan tweeted thanks on Tuesday to all the countries and international organizations that expressed condolences and shared Turkey’s pain over Sunday’s attack. Among the countries he thanked was the United States.
İstiklal Caddesi’nde gerçekleştirilen terör saldırısına tepki gösteren, acımızı paylaşan, başsağlığı dileğinde bulunan tüm ülkeler ile uluslararası organizasyonlara şükranlarımı sunuyorum. pic.twitter.com/xSzmU4nPk9
— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) November 15, 2022
According to a statement from the minister, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, was behind the attack. Yet the PKK denies any responsibility.
The Biden-Erdoğan meeting also covered an international deal to ship Ukrainian grain exports safely across the Black Sea for world markets, Agence France-Presse reported.
The arrangement with Russia, which is attacking Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, is vital to helping stem disruptions to global food supplies but is set to expire on Saturday.
“President Biden expressed his appreciation to President Erdogan for his efforts to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which they both agreed has been critical to improving global food security amid Russia’s war and that the initiative must continue,” the White House said.
A third sensitive issue was “close coordination” on the NATO alliance, with Turkey currently holding up membership bids by Finland and Sweden.
The Nordic neighbors applied to join the alliance in May in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but ran into objections from Turkey, which accused the two countries of harboring groups it considers terrorists.
Turkey is seeking the extradition of some political dissidents from both countries whom it deems “terrorists.”