Turkish President Erdogan Postpones White House Visit

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Multiple sources report that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided to delay his planned visit to the White House on May 9. This move is expected to disrupt efforts to improve relations after a period of strained ties and may align with the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While no specific reason was given for the postponement, a spokesperson from the US Embassy in Ankara expressed a desire to host Erdogan at a later date when schedules can be coordinated.

Insiders familiar with the summit's planning suggested that the delay might be related to the White House's perceived delay in officially announcing the visit. Comments from National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, who indicated on Thursday that President Erdogan had no scheduled visit, were seen as a contributing factor.

Both sides had been preparing for the meeting Erdogan had long sought until today when the decision to postpone was made.

President Biden is the first in two decades not to host Erdogan in the White House during his initial three years in office.

Tensions between the US and Turkey have been strained due to Turkey's acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems and its military actions against Syrian Kurdish allies of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. However, recent conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, along with escalating tensions with Iran, have elevated Turkey's strategic importance. Erdogan has sought to leverage this, including delaying the approval of Sweden's NATO membership.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration's approval of the sale of F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to Turkey led to improved relations and an invitation to the White House.

News of the visit's cancellation came shortly after the US approved a significant aid package for Israel, leading to a shift in Erdogan's tone. He criticized Israel and the Biden administration's Gaza policy during a conference in Istanbul, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "the butcher of Gaza."

Erdogan has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights, but his base has criticized him for not doing enough. This criticism was evident in the March 31 local elections, where many voters supported the New Welfare Party, which campaigned on a pro-Gaza platform.

The cancellation of the White House visit is seen by some as a win for Russia, as it underscores tensions in US-Turkey relations. It remains unclear whether Erdogan will participate in the NATO summit in Washington in July.

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