By Humeyra Pamuk
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Turkish counterpart to “pick up the phone and let us know” what the United States can do to help after a huge earthquake hit the country on Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters.
The Biden administration’s top diplomat spoke to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu by phone following the earthquake that killed more than 2,700 people across a swathe of Turkey and northwest Syria.
“It was so important for the secretary to speak to his foreign minister counterpart, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu, in the first instance to offer condolences and to make clear…that anything Turkey needed that we could provide, they should pick up the phone and let us know,” Price said.
Blinken asked his senior staff on Monday morning to identify what funding might be available to help Turkey and NGOs working on the ground in Syria, Price said.
Washington has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team and is in the process of deploying two urban search and rescue teams from Virginia and California that are expected to comprise 79 people each, the U.S. Agency for International Development said.
The U.S. consulate in the southern Turkish city of Adana would also host others working on rescue efforts, Price added.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Rami Ayyub, Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis; Editing by Chris Reese and Hugh Lawson)