Turkey recalling ambassador not to diminish relations: US State Department spokesperson

Turkey recalling ambassador not to diminish relations: US State Department spokesperson

WASHINGTON
Turkey recalling ambassador not to diminish relations: US State Department spokesperson

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on May 17 that Turkey recalling its ambassador from Washington is not likely to affect the relations between the two countries. 

“We are aware that Turkey has recalled its ambassador. That is within Turkey’s right to do so. And I don’t see that as diminishing our relationship with the government of Turkey,” Nauert told reporters in a briefing on May 17.

“They [Turkey] continue to be an important NATO ally. That is being maintained and we look forward to our next conversations with the government,” she added.

Turkey on May 14 declared a three-day national mourning following the killings of dozens of Palestinians by fire opened by the Israeli forces along the Gaza border and has recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Israel for consultations.

The Israeli ambassador to Ankara and the Israeli consul general were also told to leave the country temporarily.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan initiated phone diplomacy with leaders of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) member countries, inviting them to an extraordinary meeting of the organization on May 18.

No agreement yet on Manbij 

During the presser, Nauert also said that talks on Manbij were ongoing and nothing had been concluded.

“This is something that we addressed at NATO when the secretary had met with his counterpart in Brussels as well, and so we just don’t have any new updates on that,” she added.

“We do have a new secretary, and so he has the ability to have conversations with the government of Turkey, and then they can decide a new way forward if they should want to,” Nauert said.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a long awaited meeting in Washington on June 4.

Ankara has long been upset with the U.S.’s partnership with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Turkey considers the group a terrorist organization and has long been asking its NATO ally to cease its cooperation with the group.

Turkey recently cleared Syria’s Afrin district of the YPG and has turned its focus to Manbij, where YPG militants and U.S. troops have long been stationed together.

After their meeting in Brussels, Çavuşoğlu expressed optimism that the two countries will soon approve the road map and will begin to implement it.

Jailed pastor Brunson case 

At the press briefing Nauert also brought up the case of jailed U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson.

“His case is one that we watch very carefully, very closely, not just here at the State Department. I know the vice president has been keeping a close eye on it,” she said.

“This is also something that the president [Donald Trump] has watched very closely and carefully. It’s something that this administration continues to bring up in its bilateral meetings with the government of Turkey, and at the next opportunity. Congress is also following this very carefully and very closely,” Nauert added.

A court in the Aegean province of İzmir on May 7 decided to keep Brunson in jail up until the next hearing on July 18.

Brunson was arrested in October 2017 and now faces up to 35 years in jail on terror and spy charges.

Trump and the U.S. State Department have repeatedly called on the Turkish government for his release.

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