Ankara (AFP) – Turkey and United States on Friday agreed to work collectively in Syria after weeks of tensions over Ankara’s newest cross-border operation that raised fears of a army confrontation between the 2 NATO allies.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu mentioned after talks in Ankara that the 2 sides would arrange working teams to unravel key points which have bedevilled relations.
They gave few particulars on how this could possibly be achieved, however indicated that fixing a dispute over the management of the flashpoint city of Manbij was a precedence.
“We’re not going to behave alone any longer, not US doing one factor, Turkey doing one other,” Tillerson mentioned after the talks.
“We’ll work collectively… we’ve got good mechanisms on how we will obtain this,” he added.
Cavusoglu mentioned Turkey and the US agreed on the necessity to normalise relations.
He mentioned ties had been at a “important section” and vowed to create “mechanisms” to debate points that had been inflicting issues.
– ‘Open talks’ –
A main process of Tillerson was to allay Turkish anger over US coverage in Syria, a dispute which has ignited the most important disaster in bilateral ties for the reason that 2003 Iraq battle.
Washington has warned that Turkey’s operation in opposition to the Folks’s Safety Items (YPG) Kurdish militia within the Afrin area of Syria risked distracting from the battle in opposition to jihadists.
Tillerson known as on Ankara to “present restraint in its operation” whereas insisting that Turkey and the US “share the identical aims in Syria”.
Tillerson the day earlier held over three hours of talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with presidential sources saying the Turkish chief “brazenly” laid out Turkey’s expectations and priorities.
In a massively uncommon break from protocol, the one different official current at Tillerson’s assembly with Erdogan on the presidential palace was Cavusoglu who additionally acted as translator, US sources mentioned.
Gulnur Aybet, senior overseas coverage advisor to Erdogan, advised AFP that Tillerson confirmed an “earnestness” that was extra receptive to Turkey’s considerations.
“We might clearly see the Individuals needed to make issues proper and that they had been making an attempt very exhausting,” Aybet added.
– ‘Resolve Manbij’ –
Turkey’s operation in opposition to the YPG, which Ankara blacklists as a terror group, has pitted Turkish troops in opposition to a militia which is intently allied with the US within the battle in opposition to Islamic State (IS) group jihadists.
For Ankara, the YPG is a department of the outlawed Kurdistan Staff’ Get together (PKK), which is blacklisted as a terror outfit by the US and the EU.
Erdogan this month raised the stakes by warning US troops to go away Manbij, a YPG-held city east of Afrin, inflaming fears of a conflict between the allies. America has a army presence in Manbij.
Tillerson mentioned Turkey and the US needed to resolve the tensions surrounding Manbij as a “precedence” and the difficulty could be a spotlight of the working teams.
The talks will take a look at the YPG shifting out of Manbij additional east, past the Euphrates River, in order that the Turks might then go into Manbij alongside the Individuals, mentioned an individual with information of the discussions, who requested to not be named.
The city was held by IS earlier than they had been pushed out by Kurdish militia and Tillerson mentioned it was important it didn’t fall into jihadist arms once more.
Cavusoglu mentioned the YPG should depart Manbij. “We should make sure that YPG has gone east of the Euphrates,” the Turkish minister mentioned.
– Detained US residents –
The squabble over Syria is, nonetheless, simply one in every of a litany of points burdening Turkey-US relations.
Ties had been broken after the failed coup of 2016 with Turkey stung by a perceived lack of US solidarity and angered by Washington’s refusal to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania-based cleric accused of ordering the putsch.
Tillerson additionally urged the discharge of Turks and Individuals who’ve been caught up within the post-coup crackdown.
Final week, NASA scientist Serkan Golge, a twin nationwide, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for being a member of Gulen’s motion.
US pastor Andrew Brunson, who ran a church in Izmir, has been held on related expenses since October 2016. Tillerson mentioned the US believed he was “unjustly” detained.
In the meantime, at the very least two Turkish staffers of American missions in Turkey have been detained by authorities within the post-coup crackdown.
Tillerson mentioned Washington continued to have “critical considerations” in regards to the detentions and “will proceed to have interaction with our Turkish counterparts to hunt a passable decision to those circumstances.”