US defense chief to visit Turkey over consensus for Mosul offensive
AFP photoU.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is due to visit Turkey on Oct. 21, after Ankara and Washington agreed on Turkey’s participation in coalition forces’ aerial campaign in the Mosul offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
Carter will travel to Ankara as part of a weeklong Middle East and Europe trip, according to the Pentagon.
“He is scheduled to meet with Turkish leaders to discuss a range of security challenges in the region including the latest developments in Iraq and Syria,” according to a statement. A defense official said Carter would stay in Turkey for a couple of hours.
His visit comes after an agreement reached by Turkey and the U.S. at a meeting between the two allies’ chiefs of general staff in Washington over the weekend. The agreement will pave the way for Turkish warplanes to join an ongoing operation to capture Mosul.
Carter is due to head to the United Arab Emirates and Europe for counter-ISIL coalition meetings with U.S.-led coalition defense ministers in Paris.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Fikri Işık said coalition forces and Turkey had reached a consensus on the Turkish Air Force’s involvement in the Mosul operation. Elaborating on the upcoming defense ministers’ meeting in Paris, Işık said, “It’s natural that Turkey will be part of developments and meeting about Mosul.”
“It’s not possible to make a decision on the future of Mosul without Turkey,” he said.
Turkey is not joining aerial strikes right now, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said. “But there is an agreement on the participation of Turkish aerial vehicles in the operation in principle. In the event there is a need, our warplanes will participate as part of the coalition. What is important is to be part of it,” Yıldırım told reporters on Oct. 18 after a parliamentary group meeting.