Citing the historic grain deal reached this July in Istanbul, which unblocked Ukrainian exports to the world, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavushoglu said: "In foreign policy areas, when we look at U.S. priorities, Türkiye remains not one of the most important actors, but the most important actor. So the U.S. should not belittle Türkiye's importance by just saying 'the grain deal is done, thank you.'"
Clearing hurdles and addressing disagreements between the two countries benefits both sides, Cavushoglu told members of the Turkish American community in Los Angeles, California.
Turning to the Türkiye-U.S. strategic mechanism established last October, he said the two nations should resolve issues and boost cooperation, which he said: "is the goal."
"We need to take concrete steps, too," he added.
Cavushoglu also said Türkiye was the focus during talks with his counterparts last week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, adding that most spoke highly of Turkish efforts in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, including the grain deal and a recent prisoner exchange.
Some 60% of world conflicts including Afghanistan and Syria have been happening around Türkiye, he said, adding: "We're working to minimize the impact of crises."
Last October, meeting in Rome, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden agreed to establish a strategic mechanism that promotes high-level dialogue and addresses issues on which Türkiye and the U.S. do not fully agree, along with issues they are working on.
During a visit this April to the Turkish capital Ankara by Victoria Nuland, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, the Türkiye-U.S. strategic mechanism was launched.
Turkish-American relations have been strained in recent years due to U.S. cooperation with the PKK terrorist group's Syrian branch, the YPG, its failure to extradite the wanted ringleader of the Gulenist Terror Group (FETO), disagreements over Türkiye's purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense system and Washington's sanctions on Türkiye.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup in Türkiye on July 15, 2016, in which 251 people were killed and 2,734 wounded.
In its more than 40-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the United States and the European Union – has been responsible for the deaths of over 40,000 people, including women, children and infants. The YPG is the PKK's Syrian offshoot.
The U.S. has said it is cooperating with the YPG/PKK in northern Syria to fight Daesh, but Turkish officials say using one terrorist group to fight another makes no sense, morally or otherwise.