Tillerson in Turkey for IS Talks 03/30 06:27
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish
officials on Thursday discussed ways to coordinate the fight against the
Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, a day after Turkey said it has ended a
military operation in northern Syria.
In a statement, the office of Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim did not
refer to differences between Turkey and the United States over the role of
Kurdish forces in the campaign against IS, saying only that the two NATO allies
agreed to strengthen cooperation on regional matters.
Tillerson, who met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after Yildirim, emphasized
that Turkey is important to American security and economic ties in the region.
Yildirim said late Wednesday that Operation Euphrates Shield had ended after
its troops and allied rebels secured territory along the border between Turkey
"Syrians from Turkey have returned. Life is back to normal. Everything is
under control," Yildirim said on Turkey's NTV news channel. "Euphrates Shield
has ended. If there is a need, a new operation will have a new name."
Yildirim has previously said that the United States risks major damage to
its relationship with NATO ally Turkey if the U.S. includes Kurdish forces in
the fight to retake Raqqa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital. Raqqa is
southeast of the Syrian area that Turkish troops have occupied.
Turkey has pressed the United States to mount a joint fight to retake Raqqa
and wants U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish fighters to be excluded from the
Turkish authorities consider the Syrian Kurdish force known as the YPG to be
a terrorist group that threatens Turkey's security.
Other issues being discussed include Turkish requests for the extradition of
U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused of staging a failed coup
attempt last year. Gulen has denied involvement.
Tillerson was also scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on
Thursday. Cavusoglu said Turkey would also take up the issue of the arrest in
New York of a senior executive of Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank. The
executive is accused of helping Iran violate U.S. sanctions against the country.