Turkey and United States on Friday agreed to ‘work together’ in Syria after weeks of tensions over Ankara’s latest cross-border offensive that raised fears of a military confrontation between the two NATO allies.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu said after talks in Ankara that the two sides would set up working groups to solve key issues that have bedeviled relations.
They gave few details on how this could be achieved, but indicated that solving a dispute over the control of the flashpoint town of Manbij was a priority.
“We are not going to act alone any longer, not US doing one thing, Turkey doing another,” Tillerson said after the talks.
We will work together… we have good mechanisms on how we can achieve this, there is a lot of work to be done,” he added.
Cavusoglu said Turkey and the US were agreed on the need to normalize relations.
He said that ties were at a “critical phase” and vowed to create “mechanisms” to discuss the issues that were causing problems.
A prime task of Tillerson on his trip to Ankara is to allay Turkish anger over US policy in Syria, a dispute which has ignited the biggest crisis in bilateral ties since the 2003 Iraq war.
Washington has warned that Turkey’s offensive against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) Kurdish militia in the Afrin region of Syria “risks distracting” from the fight against ISIL terrorists.
Tillerson called on Ankara to “show restraint in its operation” while insisting that Turkey and the United States “share the same objectives in Syria”.
Tillerson the day earlier held over three hours of talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with presidential sources saying the Turkish leader “openly” laid out Turkey’s expectations and priorities.
In a hugely unusual break from protocol, the only other official present at Tillerson’s meeting with Erdogan at the presidential palace was Cavusoglu who also acted as translator, US sources said.