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Erdogan turned down meeting with Pompeo: report

Pompeo's visit to Turkey comes after his ally President Trump lost the US elections [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 November, 2020

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Pompeo will not be meeting with top Turkish officials during his visit, after President Erdogan and Foreign Minister Cavusoglu reportedly turned down meeting requests.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected an appointment request from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a Turkish media report said on Monday.

Pompeo is scheduled to be in Istanbul on Monday and Tuesday as as part of a seven-nation nation tour that also takes him to several Middle East countries and France.

While the US official will meet with Bartholomew I of Constantinople - the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox world – he does not have any scheduled meetings with top Turkish officials.

Pompeo had asked to meet with Erdogan if he "will be in Istanbul" and was met with rejection by the Presidency, Haber Turk reported, citing the official's "attitude" as reason.

In an earlier report, Bloomberg cited a Turkish official, who asked not to be identified, saying Pompeo had declined an invitation by Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to go to Ankara and instead had insisted Cavusoglu come to Istanbul to meet him.

Speaking to reporters, US officials attributed the ordeal as a "scheduling error", adding that Pompeo meant "no offense" in not meeting with senior Turkish officials.

Last week, Pompeo's Turkey visit already got off to a rocky start when Ankara criticised his decision to bring up the issue of religious freedom.

The State Department said Pompeo wanted to "discuss religious issues in Turkey and the region and to promote our strong stance on religious freedom around the world".

Read also: Pompeo 'made rich by Israel lobby', says new Pentagon adviser

Pompeo's meeting with the patriarch in Istanbul comes four months after Erdogan re-converted Istanbul's emblematic Hagia Sophia monument into a mosque, a move that was publicly criticised by the US official.

Turkey's foreign ministry called Pompeo's visit subject matter "extremely inappropriate".

"It would be better if the United States looked in the mirror and showed the necessary sensitivity to human rights violations such as racism, Islamophobia and hate crimes in its own country," the ministry said in a recent statement.

The visits come after the US presidential elections saw Democrat Joe Biden win the race against incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

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