President Joe Biden and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, met unexpectedly on Tuesday on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali.

During the meeting, Biden expressed his condolences for Sunday’s bombing in Istanbul, which left six dead and eighty one people wounded in one of the city’s busiest areas. Reacting to the attack, President Erdogan said the “smell of terror” was in the air.

At the meeting today in Bali, President Biden reiterated the US position as a NATO ally to Turkey. According to the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the US stands “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Turkey in “countering terrorism.” However, Turkey’s Minister of Interior, Süleyman Soylu, rejected Biden’s condolences and accused the US of being involved in the explosion. In the past, Turkey accused the US of funding terrorist organizations in northern Syria with weapons and training.

“This message of condolence should be interpreted as ‘killers always arrive on the scene first.’ We will certainly give a clear answer to this message,” said Soyly. 

At G20 meeting, President Biden expressed his gratitude to Erdogan for helping renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which guarantees the safe transportation of cargo ships to and from Ukraine’s ports. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted exports, triggering a global food insecurity crisis. The deal was arranged by Turkey and the United Nations in July. Following the meeting with Erdogan, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin, agreed to rejoin the initiative. Secretary Blinken warned that any act by Russia aimed to “disrupt these critical grain exports is essentially a statement that people and families around the world should pay more for food or go hungry.” According to the United Nations, 10 million tonnes of grain and other food have been exported since the deal began.  

At G20, Biden and Erdogan also discussed the purchase of F-16 fighter jets. Biden noted that Turkey is an “important actor” in Sweden’s NATO accession process. Earlier this month, Ankara said negotiations were going well and that the US may approve the sale of F-16 fighters soon. 

According to a White House statement, the two leaders also discussed “other issues of regional and global concern.”   


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