Dempsey wraps up Syria talks in Turkey
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey (R) and Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel (L). AA photoU.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has described Turkish and U.S. interests in Syria as identical. The top U.S. general held separate talks with his Turkish counterpart, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and Foreign Ministry officials in Ankara on Sept. 17.
Dempsey’s meeting with Özel was closed to the press, nonetheless, his remarks posted on the official website of the U.S. Defense Department upon his arrival in Ankara explicitly indicated his top agenda item during talks with Turkish officials.
“I’m here to learn, but I’m also here to share what we think of this [Syrian situation] regionally. They are facing an immediate threat to their southern border. As a partner – bilaterally and also in NATO – we’re attuned to it,” Dempsey was quoted as saying. Turkey is a key U.S. ally and partner, Dempsey said, reiterating that he wants to learn how the Turks regard the fighting in Syria. A brief statement posted on the official website of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) following the meeting said that “regional security issues; the two countries’ relations within the context of NATO; the incidents which recently took place in Afghanistan; and the cooperation in the fight against terror and intelligence sharing,” were discussed during the meeting between Özel and Dempsey.
Due to rising attacks by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), it was the Turkish side which was expected to raise its concerns over performance of the existing intelligence-sharing mechanism between the two allies, which has been in force since the U.S. agreed to it in November 2007.
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who was expected to have formal meetings with Turkish officials on Sept. 17., cancelled his visit to Turkey due to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11.