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Pompeo knocks Turkey in NATO speech: report

Greg Nash

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo knocked Turkey in a speech during his final NATO meeting, slamming the country for disrupting the organization’s security and for instability in the eastern Mediterranean, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Five diplomats and officials told Reuters that Pompeo used his last confidential NATO meeting to highlight the tensions between the U.S. and other NATO members and Turkey.

The secretary of State called out Turkish officials for buying a Russian weapons system, which he called “a gift” to Moscow. He also criticized the nation for destabilizing the eastern Mediterranean through a gas resources dispute with Greece and non-NATO member Cyprus. 

Pompeo told Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu that the country should not have sent paid Syrian fighters to Libya and to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

The diplomats and officials told Reuters that the meeting was “measured” but “more confrontational” than usual NATO meetings. 

Other NATO allies, including France, Greece and Luxembourg, piled on the criticism of Turkey, leading Çavuşoğlu to bring up different allegations, according to the sources. 

According to the diplomats, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that NATO’s unity “was not possible if an ally copied Russian actions,” citing Turkey’s deployment of fighters.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that NATO allows for the countries to “have frank, closed door discussions.”

“Our views regarding recent Turkish actions have not changed,” the spokesperson said. 

“The United States has urged Turkey on multiple occasions to resolve the S-400 [Russian weapons system] issue, cease using Syrian fighters in foreign conflicts, and cease provocative actions in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson concluded that the U.S. remains “committed to our strategic relationship with our NATO Ally Turkey.”

Çavuşoğlu said Thursday he could not talk about the confidential meeting, adding he explained the reasoning for why Turkey purchased the weapons system from Russia. 

Turkish officials asserted that Pompeo made “unjust accusations,” but NATO did not present a united front against Turkey, according to Reuters.

The meeting will be the last for Pompeo during President Trump’s term, as President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. 

Tags Biden transition diplomats Donald Trump Joe Biden Mike Pompeo NATO Reuters Russia Russia weapons system State Department Turkey
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