'Dire situation in Gaza requires our urgent attention,' says Turkish foreign minister in US


Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Friday said the "dire situation" in Gaza "requires our urgent attention" and called for a cease-fire and unhindered humanitarian aid in the Palestinian enclave.

"The dire situation in Gaza requires our urgent attention as international community to stop the suffering of the innocent people," Fidan said ahead of his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the State Department under the framework of the Türkiye-US Strategic Dialogue Mechanism.

"And they need immediate humanitarian assistance. So that's why... we need to work hard together to make sure that we have a cease-fire and we have unhindered humanitarian assistance inside Gaza," said Fidan.

Blinken, for his part, said the maritime initiative announced by President Joe Biden on Thursday will be "critical" while highlighting the need to expand the land crossings into Gaza.

"We're also intensely focused on seeing if we can get a cease-fire with the release of hostages, the expansion of humanitarian assistance and an environment for working on an enduring resolution," he said.

Blinken added that the ball is in Hamas' court.

The meeting came following high-level discussions between senior Turkish and US officials at the State Department, including a meeting between Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Burak Akcapar and US Deputy Secretary Kurt Campbell on early Friday.

Fidan arrived in Washington Thursday and met White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and some Congress members, including Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin.

Several bilateral and regional issues, including the war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the Russian-Ukraine war as well as the Azerbaijan-Armenia peace process will be discussed during the meetings.

Turkish diplomatic sources told reporters ahead of Fidan’s visit that the top Turkish diplomat will convey Türkiye’s expectations regarding the fight against PKK/YPG and FETO terror groups.

Fidan is also expected to discuss the steps regarding Türkiye's acquisition of the F-16 fighter jets as well as procedures related to the F-35 program, and Ankara’s request to be removed from US' Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions (CAATSA), according to Turkish sources.

The US Congress’ approval of the long-stalled sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye last month, which came shortly after Turkish parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership, has been seen by many as some boost to strained ties between two NATO allies.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the recent steps between Türkiye and the US as "some positive developments."

"The atmosphere in the Congress is positive at the moment," he told reporters on Feb. 15 on the way back from his visit to Egypt. "We can say that the number of issues we agree on with the US is increasing."

US Ambassador to Ankara Jeff Flake wrote in an article at Deseret News that the approval of the sale of F-16 jets signals "a commitment by both countries that a strong bilateral relationship is in our collective self-interest."

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