United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım early on March 30 as part of his trip to Ankara, with the two leaders discussing developments in Syria and Iraq as well as the joint fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
As the highest-level representative of the Donald Trump administration to visit the Turkish capital so far, Tillerson will also meet President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and will give a joint press conference with the latter.
A short statement issued by Turkey’s Prime Ministry highlighted the fight against ISIL as well as Ankara’s demand for the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, believed to be behind the July 2016 coup attempt, as issues discussed by Tillerson and Yıldırım.
The two agreed to continue high-level official talks in the coming period, it added.
Tillerson’s delegation includes Brett McGurk, the special representative of the administration on the fight against the ISIL who is also believed to be the master of the U.S. strategy to ally with local Syrian Kurdish groups in the anti-jihadist fight. McGurk was appointed to his position by the Barack Obama administration but was asked to continue his job under the new government in the U.S.
Turkey considers the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to be terrorists aligned with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and is pressing Washington to cease its cooperation with them.