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What did Elon Musk talk about with Erdogan? 

Erdogan and Musk discussed a new Tesla factory in Turkey, Starlink, drones and launching a Turkish astronaut into space
Elon Musk (L) accepts Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's gift, which is a ball for Musk's son, on 17 September 2023 in New York City (Turkish Presidency)
Elon Musk (L) accepts Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's gift of a ball for Musk's son in New York, 17 September 2023 (Turkish Presidency)
By Ragip Soylu in Ankara

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with American billionaire and X (formerly Twitter) owner Elon Musk on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings on Sunday, posing with Musk’s infant X Æ A-Xi and giving him a football. 

The pair, who met previously in 2021, have expressed a mutual interest in aerospace and the production of high technology products. 

So what did the two discuss on Sunday, other than pleasantries about Musk’s son and Erdogan handing over a copy of his book on reform of the UN Security Council?

Turkish sources told journalists that first, Erdogan invited Musk to establish his second Tesla factory in Europe in Turkey, an idea which Musk was reportedly sympathetic to.

Erdogan, in a surprising turn, said that Ankara was ready to work with Musk on Starlink and artificial intelligence.

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Ankara has previously been reluctant to cooperate on Starlink, a system that provides broadband internet using thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth. There were calls during the February earthquakes to deploy it in Turkey to help the rescue efforts, but this failed to materialise.

"Starlink is not approved by the Turkish government yet. SpaceX can send as soon as approved," Musk said on the day of the disaster. 

MEE reported that the government had been concerned that if Starlink was licensed in Turkey, Ankara’s digital watchdog would have no control over the internet and wouldn’t be able to censor it.

Musk said during the meeting with Erdogan that he was ready to work with Turkish officials to obtain the licence needed for operation in Turkey. 

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Erdogan also told Musk that Turkey was amongst the most important high-tech countries and the nation’s success in the drone industry was tangible proof of this. 

Musk, according to the source, said that he believed that the wars of the future would take place between advanced armed drones.

Musk also confirmed that he was aware of the world's interest in Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drones. 

Erdogan also invited Musk to attend the popular Turkish aerospace fair Teknofest later this month, which is sponsored by Baykar, the producer of the TB2 drones. 

Musk’s SpaceX firm launched the Turkish satellites Turksat 5A and 5B into orbit in 2021 and 2022 respectively. 

Mustafa Varank, the chairman of the Turkish Parliament’s industry commission, told journalists in New York that Turkey was considering using SpaceX to launch the next generation Turksat 6A to orbit.

He also suggested that SpaceX would transport the first Turkish astronaut to the Axiom Space Station, which is still under construction. 

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