Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the accuracy of a State Department summary of his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, ending U.S.-Turkey dialogue at the NATO summit with a scoff.
“I saw the comments by my Turkish counterpart,” Pompeo told reporters, holding back a chuckle. “I re-read the readout of our meeting — spot on, stand by every word of it.”
Pompeo huddled privately with Cavusoglu on Wednesday, in the midst of a very public dispute between the two NATO members over Turkey’s insistence on purchasing a Russian anti-aircraft missile defense system, known as the S-400. The discord between the two sides surfaced even in the most basic matter of how to describe the meeting in the readout, as the typically insipid summaries of diplomatic meetings are called.
“The readout ... not only fails to reflect the content of the meeting, but also contains matters that were not even raised during the said meeting,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said earlier Thursday. “Our alliance naturally requires that such statements are prepared with greater care, while avoiding to include matters that were not raised during meetings.”
The two diplomats discussed four main topics, according to the U.S. account: the Syria crisis, especially the “potentially devastating consequences of unilateral Turkish military action in the region"; the detention of American citizens; and "the potential economic opportunities” between the two countries; and the S-400 controversy.
“We are continuing to have conversations,” Pompeo said of the arms deal. “I think the Turkish government understands the Turkish position quite clearly.”
President Trump’s administration has offered to sell American-made anti-aircraft missiles to Turkey, but Cavusoglu downplayed the value of that offer on Thursday. Still, Pompeo expressed optimism that the dispute would be resolved.
“I had a good long conversation with the Turkish foreign minister yesterday,” he said. “I'm very confident we'll find a path forward.”