US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Thursday, their second call in four days, to discuss how the United States can assist Turkey and Syria following devastating earthquakes this week, the State Department said.
“This was primarily an effort to garner from our Turkish allies what they would like to see from the United States,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters, adding that the United States expects it will have more to say on Turkey aid soon.
The death toll across both countries has now surpassed 20,000, more than the 17,000 killed in 1999 when a similarly powerful quake hit northwest Turkey.
Cavusoglu gave specifics about Turkey’s needs, Price said, adding Washington “will do everything we possibly can to fulfill the needs that the Turks have put forward.”
Price said US helicopters are helping rescue personnel reach areas difficult to access areas and said Washington is pre-positioning relief equipment it hopes will join the recovery efforts.
The United States is providing a Disaster Assistance Response Team comprised of about 200 people, including two urban search and rescue teams. Paramedics, emergency responders, hazardous material technicians and others have already arrived, Price said.
Washington is also sending concrete breakers, generators, medical supplies, tents, water and water purification systems, he added.
Price said the United States will continue to demand unhindered humanitarian access to Syria and urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to immediately allow aid through all border crossings.