Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R), greets Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, before a meeting at the Department of State on June 4, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Mark Wilson / Getty Images / AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, met with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Monday to endorse a ‘road map’ for addressing US-Turkish tensions over the status of SDF-controlled Manbij, where the US maintains a military presence.
“They considered the recommendations of the Turkey-US Working Group on Syria pertaining to the future of our bilateral cooperation in Syria on issues of mutual interest, to include taking steps to ensure the security and stability of Manbij,” reads a joint statement by Pompeo and Cavusoglu, published by the US State Department.
“They endorsed a Road Map to this end and underlined their mutual commitment to its implementation, reflecting agreement to closely follow developments on the ground,” the statement adds.
Cavusoglu and Pompeo agreed to hold further meetings of the working group mechanism to resolve outstanding issues in the bilateral relationship, it said.
“An initial session of the Working Group on Judicial and Other Issues took place immediately after the meeting of the Minister and the Secretary,” the statement added.
The two NATO allies have been at odds over the US-led anti-ISIS coalition’s support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), composed largely of Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.
The YPG were the primary partnered-ground force in the liberation of Manbij from ISIS in 2016.
“For our side, PKK/YPG and FETO are two major issues and we hope that our ally will stand with us on those issues,” Cavusoglu said later, while attended a program organized by Turkish Heritage Organization, Anadolu reports.
“I am very glad that we have achieved a significant progress. I can say that it was a very fruitful and successful meeting,” he added.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to attack Manbij since Turkish forces directly entered the Syrian conflict in late August 2016. This has looked increasingly likely since Turkish forces seized neighboring Afrin in March.
West of the Euphrates, Turkey would like to see a US withdrawal; however, Washington has invested in stabilization efforts there through the establishment of military and civil councils.
US President Donald Trump campaigned heavily on US troop withdrawals in places like Syria. Under his administration, Washington has called on regional players to play a greater role in resolving the Syrian conflict and fight against extremism.
Last updated 9.21 P.M.