Blinken to visit Turkey to see US response to earthquake

Washington has committed $85m in humanitarian aid so far

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Turkey on Sunday to see the response to the deadliest catastrophe in the country's history.

Mr Blinken will be the highest-level US official to visit Turkey since the earthquake, which devastated parts of the country as well as Syria last week, claiming tens of thousands of lives.

The State Department said on Wednesday that Mr Blinken would visit Incirlik Air Base to “see first-hand US efforts to assist the Turkish authorities responding to the devastation caused by the February 6 earthquakes” before going to Ankara to meet his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

More than 35,000 people have died in Turkey, along with several thousand more deaths reported in Syria.

Mr Blinken will stop in Germany for the Munich Security Conference before visiting Turkey, and he plans to travel to Greece afterwards.

It will be his first trip to Turkey after more than two years in office. President Joe Biden's administration has distanced itself from the Nato ally due to several policies adopted by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in addition to his friendly relationship with Russia.

The US last week committed $85 million in immediate humanitarian aid for Turkey, along with ongoing USAID help.

Jeff Flake, the US ambassador to Turkey, has been active in ensuring American assistance to the country following the disaster.

“We are determined to do whatever we can over the next weeks, the coming months and however long it takes to help our Turkish friends,” he said on Tuesday.

Mr Blinken is also expected to thank Turkey for “its support for cross-border aid to affected areas of Syria”, the State Department said, an issue that has been reignited following the earthquake.

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Updated: February 15, 2023, 10:18 PM