Turkey-USA: Tillerson, Cavusoglu agree to disagree

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met in Ankara on Thursday several Turkish senior officials.

After a meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, he told reporters they discussed “options that are available” regarding issues that are affecting their bilateral ties. Turkey and the U.S. have diverging policies regarding the war in Syria and are also at odds over the fate of Fethullah Gulen, after Ankara requested his extradition from his Pennsylvania home.

Turkey is not part of the U.S.-led airstrike campaign in Iraq and Syria against ISIS but Cavusoglu pointed out that they fight the group “together”. He however deplored that “it is not correct to fight against one terrorist organization while co-operating with another.” He was alluding to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish armed group allied to the U.S. in fighting ISIS.

The position of the U.S. with regards to its ties with the YPG will continue to be challenging because of the “difficult choices that have to be made”, a frankly speaking Tillerson observed. He admitted that Turkey is a “key partner” in the fight against extremist groups.

Observers believe that Washington’s relations with the rebel group will continue because of its effectiveness on the ground, which has also helped to limit the presence of U.S. troops on the ground.

The Turkish Foreign Minister also stressed that Ankara wants to see “concrete steps” with regards to the evidence provided for Gulen’s extradition. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had pledged to “evaluate the documents meticulously.”

Both Tillerson and Cavusoglu are conscious of the significance of warmer ties between the two countries.

The US official highlighted that “a number of options and alternatives” for cooperation are being discussed, while Cavusoglu called for the “need to take mutual steps to put relations with the United States back on track”.

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