Tillerson Says US-Turkey Relations are Boiling Over, Promises Cooperation

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Tillerson Says US-Turkey Relations are Boiling Over, Promises Cooperation

The US and Turkey appeared to calm fears of a potential military confrontation, agreeing to work together in Syria and deescalate rising tensions between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

Mr Cavusoglu said Turkey would be able to take joint steps with the United States in Syria once the YPG left the vicinity of Manbij.

Litany of problems The squabble over Syria is, however, just one of a litany of issues burdening Turkey-US relations.

Last month, Turkey initiated an operation, supported by Syrian rebel fighters, to push out the Kurdish YPG militia in Syria's northwest region Afrin region.

The United States and Turkey agreed on Friday to try to rescue a strategic relationship that Washington acknowledged had reached a crisis point, with Turkey proposing a joint deployment in Syria if a US-backed Kurdish militia leaves a border area. "Not tonight, we're still working", he said.

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"Our relations were at a critical turning point", Cavusoglu said.

However, the USA has used the YPG as a key ally in its battle against Islamic State in Syria, and in the last week has defended it against attacks by pro-Syrian government forces in Deir Ezzor.

Such rhetoric was absent on Friday and USA officials expressed hope that it would not resurface in the days after Tillerson's visit, which followed a similar trip earlier this month by national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Turkey's defense minister, Nurettin Canikli, said in Brussels he has asked that the US end its assistance to Kurdish fighters and remove them from the SDF.

As the talks got underway, dozens of Turkish demonstrators marched to the building where the meeting took place, waving Turkish flags, to protest US support to the YPG. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's rhetoric has been calmer, urging both sides to engage in diplomatic efforts to fix ties before they get any worse.

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He said he recognised Turkey's legitimate right to defend its borders, but called on Ankara to show restraint in the Afrin operation and avoid actions that would escalate tensions in the area.

"We want to consult with Turkey and make sure they at least understand what may be at risk with this transaction", Tillerson said.

But Tillerson added that Turkey and the U.S. had to solve the tensions surrounding Manbij as a "priority".

On Friday, February 14, pro-Ankara forces maintained pressure on Kurdish paras in Afrin, striking in the region's west and scoring a small advance that has so far led to the capture of Hassan Kalkawi and Jalma - two co-joining villages.

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