Tillerson to woo Turkey during Ankara visit
Al- Monitor has learned that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to travel to Turkey March 30. He will be the most senior US official to formally visit Turkey since the Donald Trump administration took office in January.
A senior Turkish official who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that Tillerson was expected to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, among others. The official was unaware of Tillerson’s full itinerary but said it would not be unusual for the secretary to visit other countries in the region as well. The official declined to elaborate any further.
In an emailed response to Al-Monitor’s request for comment, the State Department said it had “nothing to announce on [the] Secretary[‘s] travel.”
Tillerson’s visit comes amid long-standing tensions between Washington and Ankara over US plans to pursue its alliance with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) against the Islamic State (IS). The SDF’s Arab component is growing by the day, but nonetheless remains dominated by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Turkey wants the United States to scrap its ties with the YPG, arguing that the group is linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations and is fighting a bloody insurgency inside Turkey. The United States, however, clings to the fiction that the YPG and PKK are separate entities. All signs indicate that Washington will stick with the SDF, which has proven to be the most robust local force on the ground in the fight against IS, as it prepares for the capture of Raqqa, the jihadis’ “capital.”
Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/03/turkey-tillerson-raqqa-afrin-russia-isis-sdf-ypg-pkk.html#ixzz4bjTkh3eY
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