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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 
and Syria.

   "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.


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