President Joe Biden met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Bali on Tuesday, a meeting that was not announced in advance.

He expressed sympathy for the weekend bombing in Istanbul that killed six people.

The attack strained relations between the two countries after Erdogan’s government blamed the Kurdish PKK group, and rejected a White House message of condolence. 

The US considers the PKK a terrorist group but has offered support to Syrian Kurdish groups in their fight against an oppressive government – angering Turkey.

On Monday, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said that a message of condolence should be viewed as ‘the murderer returning to the crime scene.’

That could have made for a strained encounter, and American journalists only found out about the meeting with Erdogan when Turkish media reported it.

‘President Biden expressed his deep condolences to President Erdogan and the people of Turkey on the acts of violence in Istanbul and made clear we stand with our NATO ally,’ the White House said afterward. 

Video showed the two leaders deep in conversation. 

President Joe Biden met Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali on Tuesday afternoon

Erdogan has positioned Turkey as a channel to Moscow, and the war in Ukraine and the status of Basketball star Brittney Griner, held in a Russian penal colony, may have been on the agenda

Erdogan has positioned Turkey as a channel to Moscow, and the war in Ukraine and the status of Basketball star Brittney Griner, held in a Russian penal colony, may have been on the agenda

People at the scene after an explosion occurred on Istiklal street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare on November 13, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. Six people died

People at the scene after an explosion occurred on Istiklal street, a busy pedestrian thoroughfare on November 13, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. Six people died

People carry the coffins of Yagmur Ucar and Arzu Ozsoy, victims of Sunday's blast that took place on Istanbul's famous Istiklal Street, during a funeral ceremony on Monday

People carry the coffins of Yagmur Ucar and Arzu Ozsoy, victims of Sunday’s blast that took place on Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Street, during a funeral ceremony on Monday

White House officials initially said the meeting was an unplanned ‘pull aside,’ but the video showed the two leaders sitting at a table adorned with a US and a Turkish flag. 

It was a potentially sensitive moment, with Turkey sometimes frustrating the US and NATO allies, buying a Russian air defense system and raising objections to Sweden and Finland joining the alliance.

But that has bought it leverage with Moscow. 

The White House said Biden also thanked Erdogan for his help in negotiating free passage for grain from Ukraine. 

‘President Biden expressed his appreciation to President Erdogan for his efforts to renew the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which they both agreed has been critical to improving global food security amid Russia’s war and that the Initiative must continue,’ it said.

The bomb on Sunday exploded on a popular shopping street. 

Turkish authorities arrested a woman they said was connected to Kurdish militants and confessed to the attack. 

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre sent condolences.

‘Our thoughts are with those who were injured and our deepest condolences go to those who lost loved ones, she said. ‘We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our NATO ally Turkey in countering terrorism.’

Erdogan also met French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit in Bali

Erdogan also met French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20 summit in Bali

Biden arrived earlier at the G20 summit on the Indonesian island of Bali, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked for more help’ in ending the war.

‘I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,’ Zelensky said, appearing remotely to a conference that Russian President Vladimir Putin skipped.

‘It will save thousands of lives.’

According to AFP, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stayed in his seat to hear the speech – and European leaders stayed in theirs for his remarks – despite threats of walkouts before the summit began.

Zelensky delivered his speech after making a dramatic return to Kherson following a Russian military retreat from the regional capital it seized after its February invasion.

Zelensky found good company among leaders who gathered in the luxurious Kempinski hotel, which features dramatic ocean views.

Xi Jinping of China condemned the ‘weaponization’ of food and energy in what observers took to be rare criticism of the way Vladimir Putin was waging the war in Ukraine.

‘We must firmly oppose politicization, instrumentalization, and weaponization of food and energy problems,’ he said.

President Volodomyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressed the G20 summit in Bali by videolink on Tuesday, urging leaders to force Russia out of his country after months of war

President Volodomyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressed the G20 summit in Bali by videolink on Tuesday, urging leaders to force Russia out of his country after months of war

President Joe Biden is seeking to rally world leaders to stay united in opposing Russia's war on Ukraine. Here he speaks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

President Joe Biden is seeking to rally world leaders to stay united in opposing Russia’s war on Ukraine. Here he speaks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

China's Xi Jinping surprised observers by apparently delivering veiled criticism of Russia

China’s Xi Jinping surprised observers by apparently delivering veiled criticism of Russia

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo urged leaders to ‘end the war.’

‘If the war does not end, it will be difficult for the world to move forward,’ Widodo said. ‘We should not divide the world into parts. 

‘We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war.’

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called Russia a ‘pariah state,’ telling reporters he planned to  ‘unequivocally condemn’ Moscow for its invasion.

Asked how he would handle Lavrov, Sunak told reporters: ‘I’m going to take the opportunity to unequivocally condemn the Russian state and Putin for their abhorrent and illegal war.’

Biden and his allies are trying to pin painfully high food and fuel prices on Vladimir Putin in an effort to build consensus among countries like India and China that have been reluctant to speak out against Russia.

Eyeing a joint G20 declaration that would condemn the eight-month-old invasion and threats to use nuclear weapons, US and European officials have painted the summit as evidence of Russia’s deepening isolation.

But before the meetings could even begin, the Cambodian prime minister, who hosted Joe Biden and other leaders at the weekend, announced he had tested positive for COVID-19.

A statement posted on the Facebook page of Hun Sen said he was returning home and canceling meetings. 

Biden was 30 minutes late leaving his hotel for the summit, and the White House later said he had tested negative.

As he welcomed his guests to the tropical island of Bali, summit host Widodo said: ‘Being responsible means creating not zero-sum situations, being responsible here also means that we must end the war.’  

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to the conference remotely following a dramatic return to recaptured Kherson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to the conference remotely following a dramatic return to recaptured Kherson

President Joe Biden sat with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during a dance performance t the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gala dinner on Saturday evening

President Joe Biden sat with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during a dance performance t the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gala dinner on Saturday evening

Hun Sen hosted Biden and other world leaders for the summit in Phnom Penh ahead of the G20

Hun Sen hosted Biden and other world leaders for the summit in Phnom Penh ahead of the G20

Left to right; Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Chinese's Premier Li Keqiang and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo stand for group photo of the ASEAN Plus Three Summit

Left to right; Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Chinese’s Premier Li Keqiang and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo stand for group photo of the ASEAN Plus Three Summit

Earlier an American official said the G20 would condemn Russia’s war. 

‘I won’t get ahead of the final negotiations but the G20 will make clear that Russia’s war is wreaking havoc for people everywhere and for the global economy as a whole,’ said the official, who spoke about the U.S. view on the summit on condition of anonymity. 

‘They will be clear that most G 20 members condemn Russia’s war and the immense suffering of this cause both for Ukrainians and for families in the developing world that are facing food and fuel insecurity as a result.’ 

However, he was unable to say what form the condemnation would take, whether it would be a communiqué signed by 11 countries or 19, or whether it would be a statement issued by the president of Indonesia, who holds the group’s chair. 

The summit is already one short with the departure of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Officials will hope none of his guests at the weekend summit of southeast Asian leaders and others are affected.

Guests included Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. 

A day earlier, Biden cleared his throat and apologized to reporters at a news conference.

‘Excuse me, I have a little cold,’ he said.

It all marked an uncertain start to the summit, where leaders had already decided to skip the traditional ‘family photo’ so that the likes of Biden can avoid having to smile for the camera alongside Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister. 

But American officials say the summit will include condemnation of Russia.

On Monday, Biden met with China's Xi Jinping - their first meeting since Biden took office

On Monday, Biden met with China’s Xi Jinping – their first meeting since Biden took office

The two displayed warm body language ahead of their meeting but clashed over Taiwan

The two displayed warm body language ahead of their meeting but clashed over Taiwan

The summit is the final leg of Biden’s around-the-world foreign policy blast.

He was in Egypt for three hours on Friday to attend the COP27 summit, before flying to Cambodia for less than 48 to attend the ASEAN summit.

On Monday he met Xi for the first time as president. Both leaders appeared maskless with entourages who all wore face coverings. 

They clashed over Taiwan and discussed North Korea’s threat to the region among other issues. 

Biden is on the final leg of an around-the-world foreign policy blitz with three summits

Biden is on the final leg of an around-the-world foreign policy blitz with three summits

Biden is due back at the White House on Thursday night ahead of daughter Naomi’s wedding on Saturday. 

US officials have said Biden’s trip has demonstrated that countries large and small are willing to condemn Russian aggression. 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to virtually address the G-20 summit.

It comes days after Ukraine’s foreign minister was invited to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia, where it became the latest signatory to the group’s treaty of amity and cooperation. 



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