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Biden with Erdoğan in 2016. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ankara — The meeting between President Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan next week on the sidelines of a NATO summit may provide both countries with a fresh start if they reach a consensus on some of their most acute problems.

The state of play: The June 14 meeting is politically sensitive in Ankara. Senior Turkish officials are avoiding any comments about it, going so far as to skip public events so as not to be compelled to speak about the meeting.

Why it matters: It will take place in a fragile moment for the U.S.-Turkey relationship, and with many issues to discuss.

  • Turkey's purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system and the government's human rights record have strained the relationship, as has the United States' collaboration with Kurdish-led groups in Syria that Ankara considers terrorists.
  • But Ankara needs to maintain a positive relationship with Washington to keep its fragile economy afloat. Erdoğan wants to use this meeting to prevent any further U.S. sanctions that would harm the Turkish economy and defense sector.

What to watch: Both leaders are expected to compartmentalize the problems at the first stage.

  • The Biden administration is unlikely to show any flexibility on its position that Turkey’s possession of the S-400, activated or not, is unacceptable.
  • But giving up on the Russian-made system would be too politically costly for Erdoğan and make him look weak. As a result, the issue will likely remain unresolved during this meeting.
  • The policy differences in Syria will also be difficult to bridge.
  • Yes, but: Afghanistan could be an avenue for cooperation, including over the postponed Istanbul peace conference and Turkey’s continued security role in Kabul’s international airport after the U.S. withdrawal. 

What they're saying: "President Biden knows Erdoğan very well. The two men have spent a good amount of time together, and they're both, I think, looking forward to having a business-like opportunity to review the full breadth of the relationship," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a press briefing this week.

  • That includes Syria and Afghanistan, he noted.

What’s next: If this much-anticipated meeting is held in a positive atmosphere, it could open the way for concrete results from future meetings, and it'll raise expectations for progress in repairing bilateral ties.

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden to host Boris Johnson at the White House next week

President Biden speaks at the White House during a virtual event with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Biden plans to host British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House next week, according to people familiar with the preparations.

Why it matters: Rewarding Johnson with a White House visit is another indication that the two leaders plan to work collaboratively on COVID-19, China and climate change.

Updated Sep 16, 2021 - Energy & Environment

UN climate summit warning signs are adding up

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

There are growing signs that make-or-break climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, this fall won’t produce tangible plans for emissions cuts that keep the Paris agreement’s targets viable.

Why it matters: The climate summit is billed by world and environmental leaders as the last, best hope for securing the global commitments needed to get countries on track to avoiding potentially catastrophic levels of climate change during the next several decades.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.