US envoy meets Turkish defense, interior ministers on anti-terror fight

US envoy meets Turkish defense, interior ministers on anti-terror fight

US envoy meets Turkish defense, interior ministers on anti-terror fight

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United States Ambassador to Turkey John Bass has said he met with Turkey’s defense and interior ministers on July 13 to discuss the ongoing fight against terrorism, underlining mutual determination to eradicate the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq. 

“[…] My meetings today are part of our ongoing cooperation and intensive discussions with the Turkish government to address the wide range of challenges we face together in combatting terrorism from Daesh [ISIL] and the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] and other terrorist organizations that threaten our respective countries, and I happened today to be in to see both of those ministers,” Bass told reporters on the sidelines of the Independence Day reception held late July 13 in Ankara. The reception was scheduled to be held on June 30 but had to be postponed due to a terrorist attack that killed 45 in Istanbul on June 28. 

On July 13, Bass held separate meetings with Defense Minister Fikri Işık and Interior Minister Efkan Ala. The talks followed the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy in the anti-ISIL fight, Brett McGurk, to Istanbul. 

“Just as we were determined to go forward in celebrating our national day, we’re also determined to keep working very closely with this government, and other members of the coalition, to do everything we can to eliminate the threat Daesh poses to all of our societies, and the threat that Jabhat al-Nusra poses to all of our societies, as quickly as possible so that we do not see the repeat of the terrible attacks in Istanbul, and Orlando, and Dhaka and other places in the future,” he said. 

Bass indirectly mentioned the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) role in the fight against ISIL, saying, “At the same time, we do not believe that contributions to the counter-Daesh effort by any individual group in Syria should be used to try to dictate future political arrangements in that country, or to change the way in which Syria is governed, unless it involves everyone in Syria.”

On a question whether he meant the PYD, Bass replied: “Well, I mean, we feel that way about every and any group in Syria. Syria’s future is for all Syrians to decide, and that’s been a cornerstone of U.S. policy for many years. So we’re consistent on that point, and we view the ongoing efforts against Daesh through that prism when it comes to future political arrangements in Syria.”