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Erdogan Snubbed by Obama During US Visit

Vice President Biden will meet with the Turkish leader instead

When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last traveled to Washington, for a state visit in 2013, President Barack Obama praised him for launching peace talks with Kurdish separatists and leading his country into a new era of economic prosperity. Erdogan can expect a very different reception when he returns this week for the Nuclear Security Summit, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Obama has turned down Erdogan’s request to join him for the inauguration of a Turkish-funded mosque in Maryland, and the U.S. president has no plans for a formal one-on-one meeting with his Turkish counterpart, who is a vital ally in the fight against Islamic State, the Journal said, quoting U.S. officials. The White House is instead expected to have Vice President Joe Biden meet with Erdogan.

According to the Journal, senior U.S. administration officials said the decision not to meet Erdogan while he is in Washington shouldn’t be taken as a slight because the two presidents met in November at the Group of 20 summit in Turkey, and spoke by phone in February.

“The president has been in such regular contact with few other world leaders,” the Journal quoted a senior U.S. administration official as saying. “When it comes to the NSS, there is not a robust [bilateral] schedule, so it’s not as if Erdogan is being excluded.”

Delegations from 51 nations are expected to attend the summit. Obama has only one planned one-on-one meeting—with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“The White House does not want to make President Erdogan look welcome,” said Max Hoffman, associate director of national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington. “The Gezi Park protests in May 2013 and the ensuing crackdown crystallized long-running concerns about Erdogan’s authoritarianism and the stifling of political dissent,” he said. “The shuttering of newspapers and TV channels has continued, and the consensus in Washington now is that Erdogan is corrupting Turkey’s democracy to pursue his personal ambition.”

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