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Cavusoglu refused to meet with Pompeo. #Bloomberg

Cavusoglu refused to meet with Pompeo. #Bloomberg
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Monday, 16 November, 2020, 19:15

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo won’t meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or other government leaders when he visits Turkey next week, a highly unusual situation that U.S. officials chalked up to scheduling conflicts and Turkish officials considered an insult.
U.S. officials briefing reporters Friday on Pompeo’s 10-day, seven-nation trip said he wants to concentrate on issues of religious liberty. He plans to meet in Istanbul with religious figures including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholowew I, the Greek Orthodox Christian leader, but isn’t traveling to the capital, Ankara.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry labeled Pompeo’s planned meetings as “extremely inappropriate” interference, defending the nation’s record on religious freedom despite Erdogan’s actions in elevating the role of mosques and Islamic worship.
Erdogan, who has often clashed over policy with the U.S. but had maintained friendly relations with President Donald Trump, has joined other world leaders in congratulating President-elect Joe Biden on an election victory that Trump has refused to recognize.
A senior State Department official said Pompeo’s itinerary in Turkey didn’t reflect a refusal by Turkish leaders to meet.
But a Turkish official, who asked not to be identified discussing diplomatic matters, told a different story: that Pompeo declined an invitation by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to come to Ankara during his visit to Turkey and instead asked Cavusoglu to come to Istanbul to meet him.
Cavusoglu refused, the official said, offended that Pompeo is giving a cold shoulder to Ankara before leaving office, according to a senior Turkish official, speaking on condition of anonymity to share the sensitive information.