ANKARA

Only the Turkish nation – not the US – can decide to change its government and president, Turkey’s top diplomat said Sunday, referring to the US presidential front-runner Joe Biden’s controversial remarks on Turkey.

“We strongly reject such impositions,” Mevlut Cavusoglu told Anadolu Agency following his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Dominican Republic, adding that Biden’s remarks that he could support opposition to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the 2023 elections are “ignorant” and fail to recognize the Turkish nation.

Cavusoglu and Pompeo also discussed the situation in Libya, and decided to continue discussions at the expert level.

In a video clip that went viral, presumptive US Democratic nominee Biden said: “We can support those elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist and get more from them and embolden them to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process.”

His remarks – recorded last December but first reported on Saturday – drew condemnation from the entire political spectrum in Turkey, including both the government and opposition.

Turkish-US relations have been under strain for a number of reasons such as Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles, counter-terrorism operations in northern Syria against the YPG/PKK – a terror group the US has supported over Turkish objections for operations against Daesh/ISIS – and the US refusal to extradite terrorist leader Fetullah Gulen, accused of masterminding a 2016 defeated coup against Turkey that martyred 251 people and killed thousands.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the PKK’s Syrian branch.

Biden is currently ahead in most US polls, but the Nov. 3 presidential elections are still months away.

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