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Blinken pledges long-term aid for Turkiye

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ANTAKYA: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a trip to Turkiye that Washington will help Turkiye “for as long as it takes” after earthquakes rocked the country two weeks ago, as authorities carried out wide-scale demolitions of damaged buildings.

The United States has sent a search and rescue team to Turkey, along with medical supplies, concrete-breaking machinery and additional funding of $85 million in humanitarian aid that also covers Syria.

The number of people who died in Turkiye in the February 6 earthquake has risen to 41,020, the Anadolu news agency reported on the basis of information from the country’s AFAD disaster authority. Combined with the 5,900 reported in Syria, the toll now stands at almost 47,000.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said there was no need to wait for a disaster and difficult times to improve relations with the United States, speaking after talks with Blinken.

Cavusoglu, alongside Blinken, told a news conference that it was not possible for Turkiye to buy US F-16 warplanes with pre-conditions and that he believed the issue can be overcome if the US administration maintains a decisive stance.

“The United States and Turkiye do not agree on every issue but it is a partnership that has withstood against challenges,” Blinken told a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara.

Total US humanitarian assistance to support the earthquake response in Turkey and Syria has reached $185 million, the US State Department has said.

Relations between the Nato allies have been strained since 2019 when Ankara acquired Russian missile defence systems, among other sources of tension between them.

Cavusoglu told reporters he had discussed a planned $20 billion deal for US F-16 warplanes with Blinken, and said that Turkiye would like the US administration to send the formal notification for the F-16s to Congress.

On Monday, rescue work wound down after the February 6 earthquakes killed more than 46,000 people in southern Turkiye and northwest Syria. — AFP

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