Turkey criticizes State Department over description of Pompeo meeting

Turkey expressed irritation with the State Department Wednesday over its description of a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu earlier this week. Spokesperson Hami Aksoy accused the State Department of having written its readout before the meeting had even taken place and said that it included things that were never brought up.

“The readout published today by the Department of State and obviously prepared before the meeting between Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not only fails to reflect the content of the meeting but also contains matters that were not even raised during the said meeting,” Aksoy said in a statement.

But Pompeo disputed the Turkish account and said he thought the readout was “spot on.” 

“I read the readout of our meeting. Spot on. Every word of it,” he told reporters at the State Department Thursday.  

According to Aksoy, this isn’t the first time the State Department’s readouts have been inaccurate.

“Similar issues were encountered during past meetings,” he added. “Our alliance naturally requires that such statements are prepared with greater care, while avoiding to include matters that were not raised during meetings.”

Deputy State Department Spokesperson Robert Palladino said that, during Çavuşoğlu and Pompeo’s meeting at the NATO ministerial gathering this week, they discussed a variety of issues including Syria, detained U.S. citizens, and Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

Here’s what the State Department released: 

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo met today with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during the NATO Ministerial. Secretary Pompeo expressed support for ongoing negotiations regarding northeast Syria, while warning of the potentially devastating consequences of unilateral Turkish military action in the region. Secretary Pompeo called for the swift resolution of cases involving unjustly detained U.S. citizens, including Serkan Golge, as well as our local staff from the U.S. Mission in Turkey. The Secretary also discussed his concerns regarding Turkey’s potential acquisition of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system. The potential economic opportunities between Turkey and the United States were also a focus of the discussion.

In particular, Turkish officials told CBS News that some of the people named in the readout did not come up in the meeting. The only person named in the readout was Serkan Golge, a Turkish-American scientist who, according to the magazine Science, was a NASA scientist studying the effects of radiation on astronauts. The Turkish government arrested him in July 2016, on charges of terrorism and conspiring against the government. 

Golge was accused of working with a movement associated with Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in exile in Pennsylvania. The Turkish government has accused Gulen and what is known as the Gulen movement, of instigating a 2016 coup against Turkish President Recip Tayyip Erdogan.

This week, the Turkish foreign minister also seemed confused about what U.S. policy in Syria is, a fact that he blamed on mixed messages from the diplomatic and military arms of the U.S. government. 

The Turkish officials also said that there were “other issues, as well,” that were not discussed in the meeting but did not elaborate.

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