United States official in official visit to Turkey

Mar 31, 2017, 03:00
United States official in official visit to Turkey

As the US prepares an operation to retake the de facto IS capital of Raqqa, Syria, the USA and Turkey are deadlocked over who should do the fighting. "There are hard choices that have to be made", Tillerson said, without elaborating. They are hard options. But it has thus far shown no willingness to abandon the Kurdish fighters, who operate as part of a mixed Kurdish and Arab force known as the SDF, the Syrian Defense Force. The U.S. -led coalition looks nearly certain to back the Kurds in the assault on the city itself.

Asked whether the US government would change its stance on the YPG/PKK, Tillerson again did not answer, saying only that discussions continued with all coalition members, including Turkey, over how to find solutions for Syria.

Turkish troops are still guarding security areas, where the government also hopes to keep Kurdish forces from creating a self-governing territory.

Thursday's conversations built on three mutual long-term goals: working together to defeat the Islamic State (Daesh); building stability in the region; and bolstering economic ties between the two nations, Tillerson said during a press conference following those meetings.

It is not clear to what extent Turkey's military operations will change inside northern Syria, where the Syrian government, Islamic State, Kurdish forces and rebel groups are all competing for territory. The visit follows months of political upheaval and a series of devastating terrorist attacks that have left Turkey reeling - and at times at odds with the U.S. There was "no space between Turkey and the United States in our commitment to defeat" the Islamic State, he said. Cavusoglu said Thursday that he expects the US will be taking "concrete steps" toward Gulen's extradition to Turkey.

"Life is back to normal".

As well as talking about the setting up of so-called "stabilisation zones" in Syria, Tillerson said Turkey was a close partner in the fight against ISIL. "Any operation following this one will have a different name", Yildirim said in an interview with broadcaster NTV.

Mr Tillerson dodged several questions about continuing USA support for the YPG, saying instead that he and Turkish officials had had "an exchange of views on the best way forward" in Syria that was "very helpful" to both parties. The U.S. has long insisted Assad lacks the legitimacy to lead Syria, but in recent days has prioritized the fight against IS, which is also fighting Assad's forces.

Referring to a recent USA raid in Mosul that killed at least 200 Iraqis, Stoltenberg said that he was waiting for the results of some different reports to speak about the incident.

Another bone of contention between Ankara and Washington is Turkey's call for the extradition of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.

"We want to see some concrete evidence on the details of this issue", to confirm the USA account of the July 21 call to Adil Oksuz, he said.

He said that the US wants to increase the $17.4 billion trade volume with Turkey in 2016 in the long term, especially in energy, health, and technology.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey wants to work with its allies to capture the ISIL stronghold, but will only do so barring the involvement of YPG.

Lederman reported from Washington.

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