Turkey and the US say Turkish-US cooperation in Syria's Manbij offers a path to resolving issues currently dividing the two countries. The NATO allies' relations are at a low over US support for the YPG, and its failure to extradite Fetullah Gulen.
Turkish and US leaders are committed to rebuilding bilateral relations, the US embassy's charge d'affaires said on Monday during a reception in Ankara to mark US Independence day on July 4.
“I believe that starting at the very top from President [Donald] Trump and President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, there are very strong signals that rebuilding the Turkish-American relationship is an important priority,” Charge D'affaires Philip Kosnett said.
Relations between the US and Turkey have been strained by Washington's support for the PKK-linked YPG terror group in Syria, and its refusal to extradite FETO leader Fetullah Gulen, who masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
Charge d’Affaires Philip Kosnett and his wife Alison hosted the 242nd Independence Day celebration in Ankara. / Maslahatgüzar Phill Kosnett ve eşi Alison Kosnett, Ankara'daki 242’inci Bağımsızlık Günü kutlamalarına ev sahipliği yaptı. #4thofJuly #BağımsızlıkGünü #IndependenceDay pic.twitter.com/r6rkg5V14W— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) July 2, 2018
Pastor Andrew Brunson
Kosnett called on Turkey to resolve issues such as the arrest of Andrew Craig Brunson, other American citizens in Turkey and Turkish employees at local US missions to bolster progress in bilateral relations.
Brunson, the pastor of the Dirilis (Resurrection) church in Izmir, was arrested in 2016 on charges of espionage, and for alleged links to and organisational activities on behalf of the PKK and FETO (Fetullah Terrorist Organisation).
US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both commented on Brunson's detention.
Pastor Andrew Brunson, a fine gentleman and Christian leader in the United States, is on trial and being persecuted in Turkey for no reason. They call him a Spy, but I am more a Spy than he is. Hopefully he will be allowed to come home to his beautiful family where he belongs!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 18, 2018
Progress on Manbij
Turkey welcomed US cooperation with its NATO ally in Syria on resolving the issue of Manbij, where a YPG presence threatens stability on Turkey's border.
Speaking at the reception, Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Umit Yalcin said working group meetings between the US and Turkey on Manbij will "continue to be a path to a solution to delicate issues."
The US see the new security arrangements in northern Syria, starting with Manbij, as setting “a positive tone for the relationship more broadly,” Kosnett said.
Kosnett also underlined that the deployment of Turkish and US forces in northern Syria is fundamentally to protect citizens of Turkey, the US and Syria against “all manifestations of terrorism.”
The YPG occupied Aleppo's Manbij district in August 2016 as part of its fight against Daesh.
Last month, a roadmap for securing the region was unveiled following a meeting in Washington between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The deal called for the immediate withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij.
On Sunday, the Turkish General Staff announced that the Turkish and US militaries had – in line with the roadmap – conducted separate patrols in the zone between areas liberated by Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria and Manbij.
The PKK's 30-year campaign against Turkey has resulted in the loss of some 40,000 lives.
Ankara says that the presence of terrorist groups near its border constitutes a clear and present danger and remains engaged in military operations aimed at purging the region of the terrorist presence.