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Antony Blinken arrives in Turkey, pledges $100 million more in earthquake aid

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited earthquake-hit Turkey on Sunday (February 19) and pledged an additional $100 million in humanitarian aid to the nation. Blinken toured Turkey’s southeastern regions. 

More than 45,000 people died after massive earthquakes hit Turkey and the northern part of Syria earlier this month. Survivors are in a dire state and in urgent need of humanitarian aid in the aftermath of a 7.8-magnitude tremor and subsequent aftershocks amid freezing conditions. 

With this visit, the US is showing support for the NATO ally, which has had tumultuous ties with Washington. This is Blinken’s first visit to Turkey since he took office more than two years ago. 

He said, “We’re here to stand with the people in Turkey and Syria in the wake of this devastating earthquake. I just had a chance to fly over today to see some of the devastations and it’s really hard to put into words.” 

WATCH | Turkey-Syria Earthquake: Death toll climbs 46,000; survivors struggle to rebuild lives 

Blinken added, “We’ve had tens of thousands of deaths, tens of millions of people affected by this quake. And of course, we still don’t know the full extent of it.” 

While mentioning the relief, he said that the US had about $85 billion worth of assistance poured in immediately for housing, water and food and medicine and clothing earlier. 

Blinken further announced that America will be bringing in another $100 million to assist those who are so desperately in need. 

He also mentioned that the US is determined to do everything possible to help the people of Turkey and Syria. 

He said, “We’ll do everything we can, including making sure, for example, that there is absolutely no doubt that whatever sanctions exist on Syria do not affect the provision of humanitarian assistance.” 

Media reports have mentioned that Blinken’s agenda during his visit to Turkey will be the stalled NATO bids of Sweden and Finland, which Turkey has so far refused to ratify. However, recent remarks by Turkish officials suggest that Ankara would approve only Finland. 

(With inputs from agencies) 

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