The USA is right here: the US Secretary of State visits the earthquake zone in Turkey

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken introduced extra support to Turkey and stated Washington would supply long-term help to Ankara because it seeks to rebuild within the wake of this month’s earthquake.

A 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck southeastern Turkey and neighboring Syria on February 6, killing greater than 45,000 individuals and displacing greater than 1,000,000, with the financial price of the catastrophe anticipated to run into billions of {dollars}.

Blinken arrived at Incirlik Air Pressure Base on Sunday for an official go to and discussions about how Washington can present extra help.

From Incirlik, he boarded a helicopter with Turkish International Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to look at from above the devastation wrought by the quake within the southern province of Hatay, one of many hardest hit.

Reporters on the tour noticed the disproportionate toll of the large earthquake, with some buildings nonetheless intact, with roofs collapsing and home windows smashed. Different residential buildings have been swept sharply to 1 aspect after decrease ranges collapsed, and blue and white tents for survivors have been erected among the many rubble.

“It is actually laborious to place it into phrases. You see buildings nonetheless standing after which buildings collapsed and roofs destroyed and proper subsequent to it, one thing nonetheless standing,” Blinken advised reporters on the base Washington used as a de facto headquarters for reduction efforts.

Nearly two weeks after the earthquake, search and rescue operations are drawing to an in depth, however Blinken stated the USA will proceed to help what he stated shall be a “long-term effort.”

“Once you see the dimensions of the injury, the variety of buildings, the variety of flats, the variety of properties which were destroyed, it’s going to take an unlimited effort to rebuild, however we’re dedicated to supporting Turkey in that effort,” he stated.

“An important factor proper now could be to assist individuals… Merely put, the USA is right here.”

Because the earthquake, the USA has despatched a search and rescue staff to Turkey, together with medical provides, concrete crushing equipment and a further $85 million in funding in humanitarian support that additionally covers Syria.

Blinken additionally stated President Joe Biden plans to authorize $50 million in Emergency Refugee and Migration Help (ERMA) funds in response to the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

The US State Division stated that with a further $50 million delivered via the State Division and USAID, complete US humanitarian help to assist the earthquake response in Turkey and Syria has reached $185 million.

Sources conversant in the planning stated Belkin will maintain extra bilateral talks in Ankara on Monday with Cavusoglu and can be anticipated to satisfy Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Blinken’s first go to to Turkey as Secretary of State had been deliberate for a while, however didn’t happen till two years after he took workplace.

That is in stark distinction to a few of his predecessors, together with Hillary Clinton and Rex Tillerson, who visited in the course of the first three months of their phrases.

Analysts say the delay exhibits the tense nature of the connection, which has deteriorated since 2019 when Ankara acquired Russian missile protection programs.

Whereas the USA has praised Turkey for a few of its actions throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it stays involved about its shut relationship with Moscow, consultants say.

The talks between Washington and Ankara are additionally anticipated to deal with stalled NATO requests to Sweden and Finland, which Turkey has to date refused to ratify, saying Stockholm particularly harbors what it calls members of terrorist teams.

Erdogan stated final month that he was solely open to ratifying Helsinki’s request.

Sweden and Finland utilized final 12 months to affix the transatlantic protection pact after Russia invaded Ukraine, however confronted surprising objections from Turkey and have since sought its assist.

Ankara needs Helsinki and Stockholm to take a harder line towards the Kurdistan Employees’ Get together (PKK), which Turkey and the European Union contemplate a terrorist group, and one other group it blames for the 2016 coup try.


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