Turkey, US agreed on stabilization of Manbij, east of Euphrates: Turkish FM
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said the U.S. and Turkey had “reached a common understanding” on the issue of the stabilization of the city of Manbij in northern Syria and other cities east of the Euphrates River.
“We have established working groups for that,” Çavuşoğlu said in an interview with the German weekly Die Zeit on March. 9. The Turkish foreign minister said he would meet with his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson on March 19 to discuss further details.
“We hope the U.S. stops giving support to terror organizations” he said, referring to the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). “These [militants] have control of 25 percent of the country [Syria] but the majority of the people that live in the cities are Arabs. For example, Raqqa. Who is controlling ths city? YPG. About 350,000 Syrian Kurds that the YPG has droven away are living in Turkey,” Çavuşoğlu said.
Çavuşoğlu's comments came after a meeting of the first of three Turkey-U.S. working groups which aimed at resolving issues between the two countries concluded on March 9.
The meeting was "positive" and collaborative work will continue, diplomatic sources told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, adding there was a sincere exchange of opinions between the delegates.
The primary agenda of the working group on Syria was Turkey's demand of clearing YPG militants from Manbij.
During Tillerson's visit to Turkey from Feb. 15-16, three working groups were established between Ankara and Washington with a view to contributing to normalizing bilateral relations and overcoming issues related to Syria, the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and Iraq.
Nearly 20 U.S. officials, led by Acting Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell, attended the meeting on March 9, according to State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
On the Turkish side, Foreign Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Sedat Önal has been presiding over the working group on Syria, Deputy Undersecretary Cihad Erginay on FETÖ and Fazlı Çorban, director general for South Asia at the Foreign Ministry, on Iraq.