US committed to protecting Turkey’s security: US defense secretary to Turkish PM
AP photoThe United States retains its commitment to providing Turkey with security, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said May 11 in London during a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım that came in the wake of a U.S. decision to arm Kurdish militants in Syria.
In a brief readout of the approximately 30-minute meeting held ahead of the start of a Somalia conference, a Pentagon statement said the two men discussed a range of bilateral security issues.
“The secretary reiterated U.S. commitment to our NATO ally,” stated the readout, provided by Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White. “Both leaders affirmed their support for peace and stability in both Iraq and Syria.”
It was not clear if the leaders discussed the U.S. decision this week to arm the People’s Protection Unit (YPG) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A first consignment of weapons is already in place for delivery and could be dispatched to the YPG “very quickly,” U.S. Colonel John Dorrian said May 10.
The move announced on May 9 has already provoked fury in Turkey, which considers the YPG an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and hence a terrorist group.
The PKK is considered a terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and the European Union.
A U.S. official told Reuters that the U.S. was looking to boost intelligence cooperation with Turkey to support its fight against the PKK. The Wall Street Journal reported the effort could end up doubling the capacity of an intelligence fusion center in Ankara.
Meanwhile, Yıldırım also met on May 11 with British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the Somalia conference in London.
Yıldırım wished good luck to May for the upcoming general elections in the United Kingdom, Anadolu Agency reported, citing sources in the Prime Ministry.
Yıldırım also voiced his wish to make best use of bilateral cooperation opportunities during and after the Brexit process, Anadolu reported.