ANKARA U.S. Secretary of Point out Rex Tillerson held talks with Turkey’s leaders on Thursday in a one particular-day visit to a NATO ally critical to the combat against Islamic Point out but more and more at odds with Washington and its European companions.
Tillerson held a closed-doorway assembly with President Tayyip Erdogan at which he was anticipated to talk about the U.S.-led combat against Islamic Point out, together with the planned offensive against its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, wherever Turkey has been angered by U.S. assist for Kurdish militia fighters.
He previously satisfied Primary Minister Binali Yildirim and reviewed attempts to defeat Islamic Point out in Syria and Iraq, Yildirim’s office environment mentioned. A U.S. Point out Division official mentioned Tillerson experienced emphasized Turkey’s “critical position” in regional safety.
Erdogan has been incensed by Washington’s readiness to do the job with the Kurdish YPG militia in the combat against Islamic Point out. Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of PKK militants who have fought a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey and are deemed a terrorist team by the United States and European Union.
U.S.-Turkish relations have also been strained by the continued existence in the United States of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Erdogan for a failed coup past July and whom Ankara desires extradited.
Ties soured under former U.S. President Barack Obama and officers in Ankara have been hoping for a reset under President Donald Trump. But there have been number of indicators of enhancement.
Tillerson’s visit arrives fewer than three months in advance of a referendum at which Erdogan is in search of constitutional modify to improve his powers, a move which his opponents and some European allies worry will deliver growing authoritarianism.
Senior U.S. officers have mentioned Tillerson will not satisfy the Turkish opposition through the visit, a sign that he will request to stay away from dialogue of domestic difficulties when striving to maintain the concentration on the combat against Islamic Point out.
But his trip has been even more clouded by the arrest in New York on Monday of an executive of Turkey’s state-run Halkbank (HALKB.IS), who is accused of conspiring in a multi-year scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Soon right after Tillerson’s arrival in Ankara, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag advised broadcaster A Haber that the arrest was a “wholly political move” built to tarnish Turkey and Erdogan, and questioned the evidence in the case.
Tillerson is anticipated to say the arrest of Halkbank deputy Standard Supervisor Mehmet Hakan Atilla is a make a difference for the U.S. justice authorities and not political. He is hoping his visit can concentration as a substitute on the campaign to retake Raqqa.
U.S. officers say Tillerson, who has mentioned the range one particular priority in Syria for President Donald Trump’s administration is defeating Islamic Point out, will emphasize the value of Kurdish YPG forces in the Raqqa offensive.
(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton)