Turkish Defense Minister Akar to meet US counterpart ahead of Sochi summit
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar (L) met his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoigu in Ankara on Feb. 11.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar is scheduled to meet the acting U.S. defense secretary on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels on Feb. 13, two days after a meeting with his Russian counterpart.
At a fourth meeting in the Astana format, a trilateral initiative to introduce a resolution to the Syria crisis, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Rouhani will concentrate on the long-term settlement.
The Turkish Defense Ministry said in a statement that the two sides discussed the latest situation in Syria during their meeting, including measures to ensure security in a demilitarized zone in Idlib despite provocations.
It added that “the ministers have mutual understanding of Turkey’s security concerns regarding the PKK/YPG and Daesh [ISIL] terrorist organizations in east of the Euphrates River.”
Turkey sees the YPG, the Syrian arm of the outlawed PKK, as a terrorist group and asks its NATO ally U.S. to stop cooperating with it on Syrian soil.
Shoigu thanked Akar for the warm reception and recalled that military experts from both sides met in Moscow earlier this month to talk about “the most important issues for the Syrian settlement regarding further stabilization in the Idlib zone and everything that concerns the eastern bank of the Euphrates.”
“I hope that today, we will be able to come to an agreement on the key issues,” Shoigu said.
US minister to come via Iraq
Meanwhile, Pat Shanahan, who took over as the acting Pentagon chief after the resignation of Defense Minister James Mattis in December last year, is expected to arrive in Brussels following an unscheduled visit for talks with Iraqi officials in Baghdad.
He was scheduled to meet senior government officials, including Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, to discuss issues of mutual interest, including the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq and U.S. military pullout from Syria, Anadolu Agency quoted an Iraqi Foreign Ministry source as saying.
Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump said U.S. troops in Iraq were needed to observe Iran.
Washington has around 5,200 troops in Iraq to provide training to Iraqi forces.