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Biden tackles tough issues with Turkish leader on final day of G20

By Maegan Vazquez and Kate Sullivan, CNN

President Joe Biden on Sunday raised concerns over Turkey’s possession of a Russian missile system and human rights issues during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the White House, in the midst of latent tensions between the two nations.

The two leaders met for about 55 minutes on the sidelines of the final day of the G-20 summit, which is being held this year in Rome.

Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system was fiercely opposed by NATO and Washington, and marked a deepening of relations between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden addressed these concerns directly with Erdoğan, according to a reading from the White House meeting, while stressing “his desire to maintain constructive relations, expand areas of cooperation and effectively manage our disagreements.”

A senior administration official told reporters after the meeting: “The president also raised human rights issues, saying it is a set of issues – democracy, rule of law. , human rights – which are important to him. And that these are issues that he and his administration will continue to raise. “

The two leaders also discussed regional issues, including the political process in Syria, the provision of humanitarian aid to Afghans, the elections in Libya, the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and diplomatic efforts in the South Caucasus, the said. White House.

Biden’s meeting with the Turkish president preceded meetings with world leaders focused on global supply chain issues. Biden will also hold his first solo press conference in months on Sunday.

Sunday morning’s meeting with Erdoğan was not previously on Biden’s public agenda and was relayed to reporters on Saturday evening by a senior administration official. The session came about a week after Erdoğan ordered 10 ambassadors – including those from the United States, France and Germany – to be declared “persona non grata” after issuing a joint statement calling for the release of imprisoned Turkish businessman and philanthropist Osman Kavala. .

Ahead of the meeting, Biden said he plans to have a “good conversation” with the Turkish president while standing by his side. Biden did not respond to reporters’ questions about whether he planned to raise human rights issues or whether he thought Turkey was too close to Russia.

Ahead of the meeting, an administration official told reporters in Rome: “Certainly the president will signal that we have to find a way to avoid crises like this in the future, and hasty action will not benefit. to the US-Turkish Partnership and Alliance. ”The official added the two leaders are expected to discuss Libya and their defense relations.

Biden and Erdoğan last met face-to-face in June at NATO headquarters in Brussels, a meeting Biden called “positive and productive.” It was a closely watched meeting after Biden in April became the first US president in decades to recognize the slaughter of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide – a move that risked a potential rift with Turkey but signaled engagement. for global human rights.

Sunday events

According to the White House, the president “will host an event on global supply chain resilience during pandemic and recovery on the sidelines of the G20, to coordinate with leaders on short supply chain challenges and long term and improve international coordination on all aspects of the supply chain.

He will also attend two G20 sessions on climate and other sustainable developments, according to the administration official.

Biden has so far ignored two of the more informal events held for G-20 leaders at this weekend’s summit in Rome.

The president did not attend a performance on Saturday night at the 1,700-year-old Baths of Diocletian, where most other leaders were treated to a performance of Puccini under tall stone arches. Instead, the President attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Church with the First Lady.

On Sunday morning, many G-20 leaders gathered at the Trevi Fountain and threw coins over their shoulders into the water. Biden skipped the event, as he was about to meet Erdoğan, who was also not present.

Earlier this month, the IMF lowered its 2021 U.S. growth forecast by one percentage point – the most for all G7 economies – due to supply chain disruptions and the weakening of consumption. And as supply chain disruptions have pushed up prices for consumers and slowed the economic recovery, Moody’s Analytics warned that the disruptions “will get worse before they get better.”

Moody’s highlighted the differences in the way countries are battling Covid-19, with China targeting zero cases while the United States is “more willing to live with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.” The firm also cited the lack of a “concerted global effort to keep the global logistics and transportation network running smoothly”.

The administration official said Biden “will also have some announcements related to our own national stockpile of critical minerals and metals, our own resources that we will devote to trade facilitation to reduce blockages at major ports around the world.” .

“He will also have some other milestones to announce tomorrow,” added the official.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Thursday the United States expects “strong results” from Sunday’s supply chain meeting, which will include “a group of Like-minded states from multiple continents to discuss how we can better coordinate to address both short-term supply chain disruptions and challenges and supply chain resilience to long term. “

Biden coordinated with French President Emmanuel Macron on the issue during their bilateral meeting on Friday, according to a White House official.

In addition, Sullivan said the president is expected to make announcements on “the ability to have modern, efficient, capable and flexible inventory.” The group “is working towards agreeing with the other participants on a set of principles and parameters for how we collectively manage and create resilient supply chains in the future.”

The president will also hold a solo press conference on Sunday afternoon ahead of Monday’s United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. This will be Biden’s first solo press conference since the one he held in mid-June in Geneva, Switzerland, following a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden’s engagements with reporters have been somewhat limited throughout this first leg of his journey through Europe.

While the US press was allowed to ask questions in the room with Biden and Macron ahead of their bilateral meeting in Rome, they were completely excluded from the president’s meeting with Pope Francis. Images of the meeting from within the walls of the papal state were broadcast by Vatican television.

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CNN’s Matt Egan and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

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