Turkey, US seek new steps to fix troubled ties
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey and the United States will continue talks on key bilateral issues, including cooperation in Syria and Iraq, with Foreign Ministry uUndersecretary Ümit Yalçın set to pay a working visit to Washington on March 30.
Yalçın’s visit will aim to maintain the relative momentum achieved in dialogue with the initiative of outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
During the visit Yalçın will meet U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan and “discuss Turkey-U.S. relations along with international and regional matters,” the Foreign Ministry stated.
It added that the results of working group meetings held on March 8-9 in Washington will also be assessed during the meeting.
Sullivan is the deputy secretary to whom Tillerson delegated his authority during the transition process until the new secretary of state, expected to be Mike Pompeo, takes his seat.
Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have been strained over a number of issues in recent months, including Washington’s partnership with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In a bid to iron out problems, Turkey and the U.S. have established working groups to discuss a number of issues, including the situation in Manbij.
The departure of Tillerson had delayed a visit to Washington by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu previously set for March 19. Yalçın’s visit may be expected to address some of the issues that were due to be tackled at that meeting.
Ankara and Washington “should not put a chill” on work regarding a mechanism to “stabilize” the town of Manbij in Syria, so officials from two countries will meet in the coming days, Çavuşoğlu had stated earlier.
Procurement of Patriots on the agenda
Another of the disputes between Ankara and Washington is the former’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which many fear will not be interoperable with NATO systems.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told reporters recently that Turkey approached the U.S. with the proposal of buying U.S. Patriot systems, while Ankara also continues to hold talks with the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium to buy missile defense systems. U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow is expected to visit the two countries to discuss the issue from March 28 to April 3, the State Department announced.
“[In Ankara] she will meet with representatives from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, and the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries to share U.S. perspectives on bilateral and regional security issues as part of the U.S.-Turkey Defense Trade Dialogue and will hold a roundtable discussion with representatives from major U.S. and Turkish defense manufacturers,” it added in a written statement.
Kaidanow is also expected to visit Iraq to meet with government officials to discuss regional security issues and U.S. security assistance programs.