Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told his United States counterpart Barack Obama that their countries continue to maintain a “model partnership”, but called for a unified stance against the existence of the PKK/PYD in northern Syria.
Erdogan and Obama held a 45-minute closed meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China – their first since a July 15 coup attempt in Turkey left 240 people martyred and 2,200 others injured.
The discussion comes less than two weeks after Turkey launched an anti-Daesh operation, called Euphrates Shield, that aims to support US-led coalition forces, strengthen Turkey’s border security by clearing terrorist groups and maintain Syria’s territorial integrity.
Erdogan underlined Sunday that the countries have a “special relation”, but stressed that they “should adopt a shared attitude against all terrorist organisations as NATO member countries”.
“There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist; every kind of terrorism is bad,” he said.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey’s fight against terror organisations such as Daesh in Syria and Iraq as well as the PKK, PYD and YPG – the armed wing of the PKK/PYD terror group – would continue determinedly.
“We do not want the formation of a terror corridor on our southern [border],” he said, adding that Turkey’s military was fighting alongside coalition forces with this objective.
“I believe we will be successful in this fight,” Erdogan underlined.
The US had earlier urged Turkey to focus its efforts in Syria on Daesh, and to avoid engaging with the YPG-led “Syrian Democratic Forces”, Washington’s principal partner in Syria.
Turkey views the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terror group, which the US and the European Union also list as a terrorist organization.
Ankara has insisted the group return to the east bank of the Euphrates River immediately, calling on the US to fulfill its commitment in this regard, and has targeted the group south of Jarabulus.
Erdogan and Obama also addressed Sunday the extradition of US-based Fetullah Gulen, who Turkey says he is the leader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), which is accused of fomenting the July 15 coup attempt.
Erdogan said that Turkey’s justice minister and interior minister – accompanied by other delegates – are due to visit the US to discuss the issue.
Last month, Turkish officials shared information with US delegations in Turkey on four different files on Gulen, who is also accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Noting that Turkey is a strong NATO ally and a critical member of the coalition against Daesh, Obama said, “our military, law enforcement and intelligence cooperation has helped push ISIL [Daesh] back”, especially along the border shared by Syria and Turkey.
“But we now need to finish the job and we discussed ways in which we can further collaborate,” he underlined, adding that the two leaders also discussed “pursuing a peaceful transition in Syria, a lasting way to end the civil war there”.
“Together we will keep working to ease the humanitarian suffering. Civilians can once again live in security and stabilise the region as a whole,” Obama said.
The US president also thanked the government and people of Turkey for “your exceptional humanitarian support of refugees as well as hosting more refugees than any country in the world”.
Regarding the July 15 coup attempt, Obama described the Turkish people as having shown their belief in democracy by taking to the streets to protest the failed putsch.
Condemning the coup bid, Obama said he had reassured Erdogan that US judicial authorities would work together with Turkish officials to bring the perpetrators to justice.
During Sunday’s meeting, Erdogan was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and National Intelligence Agency Chief Hakan Fidan.
Earlier in the day, the Turkish president also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
On Saturday night, Erdogan held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin since ties between Moscow and Ankara entered a new phase following an August 9 meeting in St. Petersburg.
The 11th G20 summit, attended by the leaders of the world’s 20 most industrialized countries, is being held in the coastal city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province September 4-5.