Turkey Sends Medical Supplies to U.S. as Virus Brings Solidarity
(Bloomberg) -- A Turkish military cargo plane carrying medical supplies left for the U.S. to boost its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, in a gesture of solidarity with a NATO ally after years of fractious relations.
The donation ordered by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including 500,000 surgical masks, 40,000 protective overalls, disinfectants, goggles and face shields, is expected to arrive at the Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Tuesday.
Turkey has sent medical supplies to more than 50 countries so far, Fahrettin Altun, the president’s communications director, said in a Twitter posting, signaling its intent to expand ties. The government has a substantial outbreak of its own to contend with, with more than 112,000 reported cases and 2,900 deaths.
“In Europe and America, many seriously ill people are being left to fend for themselves, on grounds they aren’t insured or due to lack of hospital capacity,” Erdogan said in a televised speech on Monday, contrasting that with what he called the “first class” health care being offered to Turkish citizens.
The U.S. and Turkey have been at odds over a series of flashpoints, most recently over Turkey’s purchase last year of a Russian-made missile-defense system which the U.S. says can help Moscow gather critical NATO intelligence. Erdogan’s personal relationship with President Donald Trump has, however, survived the disputes even as Washington threatened Turkey with sanctions if it deployed the S-400 missile batteries.
Turkey had “slowed down” the planned April activation of the missiles, top defense industry official Ismail Demir told state-run TRT television on Tuesday.
U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield thanked Turkey for a “generous donation.”
“As this delivery indicates, the U.S.-Turkey relationship is strong and one of our most important alliances,” Satterfield said. “We look forward to continuing cooperation with Turkey on this and many other mutual priorities.”
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