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Türkiye-US Strategic Mechanism meeting offers opportunity to build ‘forward-looking positive agenda’: US officials

Türkiye-US Strategic Mechanism meeting, which will be held this week in the US, presents a vital opportunity to establish a “forward-looking positive agenda,” according to US government officials.

“Together we’re building a positive forward-looking strategic agenda to advance our shared objectives,” US officials told reporters ahead of Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan’s upcoming visit to the US.

On Sunday, Fidan said a trip to the US is planned on March 7-8 at the invitation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken to attend a meeting of the Türkiye-US Strategic Mechanism.

“We really need to seize this opportunity. We couldn’t agree more. This is something that we’ve been working very hard at for quite some time,” US government officials said.

During the meeting, the officials said, there will be a series of working groups in the fields of counterterrorism, defense cooperation and economy.

Additionally, there will be a range of other discussions on strategic issues, including the Russia-Ukraine war, the Middle East, the Syrian crisis, the ongoing war in Gaza as well as the South Caucasus, according to the officials.

“We reenergize this relationship to find the areas and to identify the areas where we can have this forward-looking relationship and we can talk about many shared objectives we have,” the officials said.

US government officials expressed happiness that economic relations will be a focus of the strategic mechanism meeting this year as it really reflects the importance of those issues in bilateral ties between the two countries.

“Trade and investment as well as economic cooperation are critical pillars of our relationship,” the officials said, adding: “So, we hope to use the strategic mechanism to expand that economic engagement on a range of issues, including energy, trade, and economic cooperation in other regions.”

“We think there’s a lot of opportunities to work with Türkiye in places like Africa and Central Asia to deliver much-needed development and counter the influence of China and Russian activities in those regions,” US govenrment officials said.

The official said that there are immense market opportunities for US firms in Türkiye and Turkish firms in the US, which will be a focus of this week’s conversation as well.

“Opportunities exist in the energy sector, health care, information and communications technologies, smart cities and transportation,” the official said, adding that the meeting will also see a “dedicated” session on energy and climate.

“We’re very keen to promote Türkiye’s role as an energy supplier for Europe, including through increased exports of non-Russian gas,” US officials said.

Speaking about the relations in the field of education, US government officials said the number of Turkish students studying in the US “has gone up two years in a row.”

Noting that the two nations are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the US-Türkiye Fulbright program this year, the officials said since 1949, around 6,500 scholars and other participants have been supported by this program.

Touching on the US sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye, US officials said: “The F-16 deal is a massive economic opportunity, and a massive defense deal.”

“It’s critical to NATO’s strength, it’s critical for interoperability amongst allies and it’s just there’s greater capacity to advance our collective security.”

On Oct. 31, 2021, Erdogan and Biden met in Rome and agreed to establish a strategic mechanism that promotes high-level dialogue and addresses issues on which Türkiye and the US do not fully agree, as well as issues on which they are working together.

Underlining the significance of his visit to the US, Fidan said both sides will review bilateral relations on various issues in Washington.