Tillerson and Turkey's Erdogan had productive conversation

16 February, 2018, 06:13 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • President Erdogan arrives to address the party members in Istanbul

Nurettin Canikli has also said in comments televised live from Brussels on Thursday that he told U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, that U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as YPG, has helped Kurdish rebels in Turkey "to grow and strengthen", posing an increasingly "existential" threat to Turkey.

Speaking with reporters on the sidelines of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels, Mattis said his talks with his Turkish counterpart were open and honest, but acknowledged the differences. No further details were provided.

Mattis met with Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak in Brussels today to reaffirm the longstanding defense relationship between the United States and its strong North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, Poland, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.

But the rising US-Turkey tensions add to concerns about the unusual nature of Tillerson's meeting.

"We demanded this structure be removed from SDF", he said.

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"I believe we are finding common ground and there are areas of uncommon ground, where sometimes war just gives you bad alternatives to choose from".

The bad alternative Mattis was referring to was the US decision to ally with the YPG in the fight against ISIL, despite Turkey's fierce opposition and warnings.

Syrian Kurds, Arabs, and Syriacs bussed in from across northern Syria demonstrate in the Kurdish town of Jandairis near the Syrian-Turkish border, and 18 kilometers southwest of Afrin, on February 6, 2018, in a show of solidarity with residents of the enclave against Turkey's offensive.

Tillerson told reporters in Jordan that the two allies need to find a way to work together in the same direction, hinting Washington's probable proposals to Ankara.

There is still no United States ambassador to Turkey after the departure of John Bass previous year, and it was only in December that the two sides ended a row following tit-for-tat suspensions of visa services.

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The Turkish government views the YPG as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a decades-long war against Ankara.

Asked about the unusual nature of the meeting, a State Department official said Tillerson has "met before with President Erdogan, and he's okay with the foreign minister doing the translation".

The objective of this scenario would be isolating and putting Turkey into a hard situation by resurrecting ISIL in northern Syria, Bozda─č said.

Tillerson, however, later said that Washington had "never given heavy arms" to the YPG, and there was therefore "nothing to take back".

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