US President Barack Obama has turned down a one-on-one meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at an upcoming summit, reflecting the chasm growing between the two ally states after Turkey’s crackdowns on dissent.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday, Erdoğan was praised by Obama during his last visit to the US, in 2013, for launching settlement process with the Kurdish separatists and initiating a ceasefire.
“Mr. Erdoğan can expect a very different reception when he returns this week for the Nuclear Security Summit” the report said, referring to the nuclear summit, which begins Thursday.
“Mr. Obama has turned down Mr. Erdoğan’s request to join him for the inauguration of a Turkish-funded mosque in Maryland, and the US president has no plans for a formal one-on-one meeting with his Turkish counterpart” US officials were quoted as saying in the report.
President Obama once said he counted Erdoğan among his closest allies and the two men would talk regularly. Obama even hosted Erdoğan for dinner when he and his family came to Washington in May 2013. At the time, Mr. Erdoğan, then serving as Turkey’s prime minister, had just launched settlement process talks with Kurdish separatists.
During the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit Erdoğan not only met with Obama in a private meeting but also attended a meeting with Brazil’s then-President Lula da Silva and Obama.
However, this time around, the White House is expected to have Vice President Joe Biden meet with Erdoğan.
Erdoğan’s recent crackdown of independent media, including the seizure of Zaman and Today’s Zaman dailies, Turkey’s top selling newspaper, has been criticized across the Atlantic.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest recently that the United States is “troubled” by Turkish government officials acting to “shut down and interfere with editorial operations” of media outlets.
“You should not prompt changes to the newsroom or to a news organization’s editorial policies,” he told reporters. “We call on the Turkish government to ensure full respect for due process and equal treatment under the law, and in a democratic society, critical opinions should be encouraged not silenced,” he said.
Turkey is one of the US’s key allies in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) however the US has in the past criticized Turkey’s failure to strengthen its borders to prevent jihadists from entering Syria from Turkey.