Turkish FM Çavuşoğlu talks to US counterpart over phone ahead of Mideast tour
US Secretary of State Kerry shakes hands with Turkish FM Cavusoglu during a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Newport, Sept. 4. REUTERS PhotoTurkey’s newly-assigned Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has held a telephone conversation with his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State John Kerry, amid Washington-led efforts to forge an international coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
The new Iraqi government approved by the country’s Parliament on Sept. 8, was on the agenda of the call, along with developments in Libya. State-run Anadolu Agency reported that the conversation took place on the evening of Sept. 8, citing diplomatic sources, but did not elaborate whether Çavuşoğlu or Kerry initiated the conversation.
Çavuşoğlu embarked on a three-day trip to regional countries on Sept. 9, amid the expanding threat posed by the Islamic State. His itinerary includes Jordan, Bahrain and Qatar, as well as Saudi Arabia where he will attend a meeting on the current threats and risks posed to the Middle East. Çavuşoğlu’s tour began in Jordan and will end on Sept. 11 in Jeddah.
On the same day, Kerry was set to depart from Washington to Saudi Arabia and Jordan to meet with Mideast leaders and gauge their level of commitment to a regional fight against the Islamic State.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was in the Turkish capital city of Ankara on Sept. 8, holding talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel.
Turkey is seeking specific roles in the yet-to-be-formed U.S.-led coalition, Hagel said after the talks, without revealing details.
Turkey was the only Muslim-majority state in a “core coalition” of 10 countries that met on the sidelines of last week’s NATO summit in Wales. Any role it plays may be limited by a host of concerns, including fears for the 49 hostages from the Turkish Consulate General in Mosul who are still being held by the militants.