Tillerson meets Erdogan to ease tensions

Mindy Sparks
February 16, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the presidential complex in capital Ankara on Thursday amid two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies being at odds on a couple of issues.

He and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday had a "productive and open" discussion on improving ties, a U.S. State Department spokesman traveling with Tillerson said.

While Turkey views the YPG as a "terrorist" group, the United States has been working closely with the militia against the Islamic State group in Syria and giving it weapons, infuriating Ankara.

Turkey launched an air and ground assault on the northern Syrian region last month to drive the YPG away from Turkey's border with Syria.

For Ankara, the YPG is a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terror outfit by the USA and the EU. Turkey's military campaign against Kurds in northern Syria has alarmed the US leaders who have watched as the fighting has sapped energy from the fight against remaining IS strongholds.

Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the two had agreed to set up "mechanisms" to try to settle a series of disputes between their two countries.

Ankara now demands Washington to give guarantees over the withdrawal of the Kurdish YPG forces from Manbij, which could lead to Turkey and United States joint deployment in the area.

"We find ourselves at a bit of a crisis point in the relationship", Mr Tillerson said.

Rex Tillerson tried to reassure Ankara over US's involvement with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), much of which is comprised of Kurdish YPG, outlawed in Turkey as a terrorist organization.


"We're going to work together moving forward".

The meeting took place on Thursday for over three hours where the translation was done by Turkish Foreign Minister Mehmet Cavusoglu, reports CNN.

Turkey's military campaign against Kurds in northern Syria has alarmed USA leaders who have watched as the fighting has sapped energy from the fight against remaining Islamic State strongholds.

Other sources of conflict have been a recent defense deal struck between Turkey and Russian Federation over the purchase of an S-400 anti-missile system The deal has raised concerns by the West over deepening ties, as well as Russia's integration into NATO's military architecture.

Tillerson also said Syria and the US had "precisely the same" objectives for the conflict in Syria, namely defeating ISIS, stabilizing the war-torn country, and creating a unified and democratic nation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry says five Russians have been killed in a U.S. strike in Syria, the first official recognition of Russian deaths in the incident that has threatened to further strain Russia-U.S. ties.

Turkey has long pressed the U.S. to ensure that the YPG leave Manbij and has threatened to extend an offensive to drive Syrian Kurds out.

"The United States made commitments to Turkey previously, we've not completed fulfilling those commitments". But widening differences on Syria policy are just one of a number of issues that have caused a rupture in that strategic relationship.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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