US defence secretary meets Erdogan with focus on Syria, Iraq



ISTANBUL, Ergin Hava (dpa) – US Defence Secretary James Mattis met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Wednesday to discuss ongoing issues of conflict, particularly in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Mattis arrived in Ankara with a number of issues on the agenda, including a planned referendum for independence by Kurds in northern Iraq next month and Turkish concerns about the Syrian Kurdish militia, the People's Protection Units (YPG).



Turkey is concerned about the YPG, which has vastly expanded the territory under its control in neighbouring Syria, as its seizes land from Islamic State.
The YPG is the main US ally on the ground in Syria, despite Turkey's protests. The US recently delivered a new batch of weapons to the YPG, which Turkey designates a terrorist organization.
Erdogan conveyed Turkey's concerns regarding US arms support to the YPG to Mattis, Anadolu reported. He also said that the referendum for Kurdish independence in Iraq would be a "wrong step."
Another of the current critical issues between the US and Turkey was the possible delivery of Russian S-400 air defence missile systems to Turkey. Erdogan and Mattis also discussed cooperation in the defence industry as NATO allies, Anadolu said.
The home-grown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is also operational in Iraq, has been fighting with the Turkish state for more than 30 years. In 2015, a ceasefire between Turkey and the PKK broke down.
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Wednesday, August 23rd 2017
Ergin Hava
           


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