Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday congratulated Joe Biden on his victory over Donald Trump in the US presidential election, urging closer ties between the two NATO allies.
Erdogan’s statement came a full three days after US media called the election in Biden’s favour, underscoring the close personal bond the Turkish leader enjoyed with Trump.
Erdogan also sent a message to Trump, saying that “no matter how the official election result is certified,” he wanted to express thanks for his “warm friendship” during his four-year term.
But Ankara and Washington also experienced tensions under Trump’s watch, including over US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia that Turkey views as a grave security threat.
Erdogan told Biden that he wanted “to further develop and strengthen” ties.
“I congratulate you on your election success and convey my sincere wishes for the peace and welfare of the US people,” Erdogan said in a statement published by his office.
Other issues standing between Ankara and Washington include Turkey’s purchase of a high-tech Russian missile defence system, and US refusal to extradite a Muslim cleric Erdogan blames for staging a failed 2016 coup.
Turkish officials have been alarmed by an interview Biden gave to The New York Times in December in which he called Erdogan an “autocrat”.
Biden criticised the Turkish leader’s policies towards the Kurds and said Washington needed to “embolden” his rivals to allow them “to take on and defeat Erdogan”.
Erdogan’s spokesman said in August that the remarks showed “pure ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy”.
The Turkish leader did not directly address them in his statement Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil have yet to congratulate Biden.