American Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled with his Turkish colleague on a tour of the earthquake disaster area after arriving in southern Turkey on Sunday.
According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, Blinken and Mevlut Cavusoglu flew by helicopter from the Incirlik air base near Adana to the nearby Hatay province, one of the regions most severely affected by the earthquake on February 6.
Blinken had arrived from Germany at Incirlik, the base for American forces.
Since he assumed office two years ago, Blinken is making his first visit to NATO ally Turkey.
Before viewing an assistance distribution facility, he is scheduled to visit a tent city in Hatay built for individuals affected by the earthquake that killed at least 44,000 people in Turkey and Syria.
He will meet Turkish military families impacted by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake and American and Turkish service members when he returns to Incirlik.
The top American diplomat will also meet with USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, a quick response team of disaster specialists, and observe US humanitarian activities coordinated from the facility.
He will fly to Ankara later on Sunday to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday and hold talks with Turkish officials.
Blinken is anticipated to speak on the earthquake’s impact and Sweden’s and Finland’s efforts to join NATO, which Turkey is stalling.
He will urge Sweden, particularly, to take a more aggressive stance against Kurdish rebels that Ankara views as terrorists.
Blinken arrives in Turkey to observe earthquake relief efforts, arriving in Incirlik Air Base pic.twitter.com/J3nLmpgxLT
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) February 19, 2023