ANKARA U.S. Secretary of Condition Rex Tillerson arrived in Turkey on Thursday for talks with a NATO ally crucial to the battle against Islamic Condition but significantly at odds with Washington and its European partners.
Tillerson will meet up with President Tayyip Erdogan to focus on the U.S.-led battle against Islamic Condition, such as the planned offensive against its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, in which Turkey has been angered by U.S. assist for Kurdish militia fighters.
Erdogan has been incensed by Washington’s readiness to do the job with the Kurdish YPG militia in the battle against Islamic Condition. Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of PKK militants who have fought a 3-10 years insurgency inside of Turkey and are seen as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.
U.S.-Turkish relations have also been strained by the ongoing existence in the United States of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Erdogan for a unsuccessful coup previous July and whom Ankara needs extradited.
Tillerson’s stop by arrives fewer than 3 months in advance of a referendum at which Erdogan is searching for constitutional adjust to improve his powers, a transfer which his opponents and some European allies dread will deliver raising authoritarianism.
Senior U.S. officials have explained he will not meet up with customers of the Turkish opposition in the course of the stop by, a signal that he will seek to keep away from dialogue of Turkey’s domestic challenges when attempting to continue to keep the target on the battle against Islamic Condition.
But his trip has been even further clouded by the arrest in New York on Monday of an government of Turkey’s condition-operate Halkbank, who is accused of conspiring in a multi-yr plan to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Shortly just after Tillerson’s arrival in Ankara, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag informed broadcaster A Haber that the arrest was a “completely political transfer” built to tarnish Turkey and Erdogan, and questioned the evidence in the circumstance.
Tillerson is envisioned to say the arrest of Halkbank deputy Normal Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla is a make any difference for the U.S. justice authorities and not political. He is hoping his stop by can target as an alternative on the campaign to retake Raqqa.
U.S. officials say Tillerson, who has explained the amount 1 priority in Syria for President Donald Trump’s administration is defeating Islamic Condition, will emphasize the value of Kurdish YPG forces in the Raqqa offensive.
(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Ralph Boulton)