Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State John Kerry met in Washington DC on Tuesday for a bilateral meeting to cover a range of issues from the unrest in the Middle East and Europe to a solution to the Cyprus issue.
Both diplomats spoke at a joint press conference before the meeting, listing the top issues as ISIS, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, the nuclear negotiations with Iran, and the conflicts in Cyprus and Ukraine.
Regarding efforts to counter ISIS, Kerry praised Turkey, noting “Turkey has been and remains a very essential partner” in efforts to “push Daesh [ISIS] out of Iraq and ultimately Syria or any other place where it seeks a foothold for terror.”
Cavusoglu echoed these sentiments in his speech, asserting: “We need to eradicate and we need to fight Daesh and other terrorist organisations on the ground, particularly in Syria and Iraq.”
Referring to Kerry’s remarks that “Turkey is stepping up its efforts by improving screening procedures, expanding and implementing a ‘no entry list’, [and] detaining suspected terrorists,” Cavusoglu revealed that more than 12,800 people were included in the no-entry list and 1,300 foreign fighters were caught and deported by Turkey.
In October, Special Presidential Envoy John Allen and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk had visited Ankara to meet with Turkish officials, including Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and senior Foreign Ministry officials, to discuss “areas of cooperation consolidating a broad coalition against this terrorist network [ISIS] in what will be a long-term campaign.”
General Allen and the Deputy Special Envoy McGurk “recognized the sacrifice made by Turkey due to the [ISIS] crisis in Syria and Iraq, and emphasized the historic and unbreakable partnership between Turkey and the United States as NATO allies,” reads an October statement made by the US Department of State.
During the press conference, Kerry reminded attendees of Turkey’s co-chair position at the Counter-ISIL Coalition’s Working Group on Foreign Terrorist Fighters which got together earlier this month in Ankara.
The Turkish government, Kerry said, had also agreed to “host a US-led train and equip mission for the members of the vetted Syrian opposition.”
Recognising the “huge economic burden and ... social burden” that hosting nearly 2 million refugees has brought on Turkey, Kerry urged international donors to help address the refugees’ needs.
Kerry said he and Cavusoglu would discuss “the failed leadership of Assad in Syria, the conflict in Yemen, and the ongoing problems in Libya.”
Kerry also mentioned the newly begun Trans-Anatolian Pipeline to bring gas from the Caspian through Turkey and into Europe, and added that the US government thinks “it is absolutely necessary to complete the southern corridor and also the transatlantic pipeline.”
Thanking Kerry for always keeping him informed throughout talks with Iran, Cavusoglu stated that “Turkey is against nuclear weapons in our neighbourhood” and that Turkey would continue giving its “full support” to the negotiation process.
Cavusoglu said that “Turkey and Turkish Cypriots have the political will” for a solution in Cyprus, and that the U.S’ active role and involvement is “very important.”
Quoting the special advisor to the UN, Secretary General Eide, Cavusoglu said talks are expected to restart or resume after the elections in Turkish Cyprus.
Kerry remarked that “The United States and Turkey both support the UN-led negotiations to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.”
Kerry is scheduled to visit Turkey in May for the upcoming NATO ministerial meeting in Antalya. One of NATO’s priorities, he said, is “Russian aggression against Ukraine in the east, and the threat that is posed by violent extremists to NATO’s south where,” he added, “Turkey’s contributions are especially important.”