ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey is ready to work with whoever wins the U.S. election, two top Turkish officials said on Friday, despite a friendship with President Donald Trump that has helped the two countries through turbulent times.
“Regardless of which candidate takes office in the U.S., we will pursue a sincere approach to improve our relations,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
The decades-old partnership between the NATO allies has gone through unprecedented tumult in the past five years over disagreements on Syria policy, Ankara’s closer ties with Moscow, its ambitions in the eastern Mediterranean, U.S. charges against a state-owned Turkish bank and an erosion of rights in Turkey.
Cavusoglu said Turkey had worked with Democrat and Republican administrations alike and overcome difficulties with both.
He spoke as Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden took a narrow lead over President Donald Trump in the battleground state of Georgia, putting the White House within Biden’s reach as undecided states continued to count votes.
Washington has threatened sanctions on Turkey for purchasing Russian missile defence systems but Trump’s administration has avoided imposing sanctions.
“Of course, individuals have an impact, positive and negative. The sincere friendship between our president and Mr. Trump continued through the most difficult times,” Cavusoglu said.
Analysts say Turkey’s bilateral ties could suffer if Biden becomes U.S. president. The lira, which is already trading at a record low against the dollar, could come under more pressure.
However Erdogan’s top aide, Vice President Fuat Oktay, said Ankara was not afraid of sanctions.
“No country, including America, has the chance to implement a foreign policy, programme or policy in the region in spite of Turkey or by excluding Turkey,” Oktay told broadcaster A Haber.
“Turkey is no longer a country which shrinks from, or is scared of, sanctions. Sanctions would increase further our resolve and our determination,” he said.
Reporting by Ece Toksabay and Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans
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