Turkey, US to coordinate response to war in Ukraine, Ankara says

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Turkey and the United States will remain in “close coordination” as they work towards a diplomatic solution to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday following talks between the vice -foreign ministers of NATO allies.

In a statement after talks between Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and US Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman in Ankara, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the allies “confirmed their support for the integrity territorial and sovereignty of Ukraine”.

“The importance of remaining in close coordination to manage the multifaceted impacts of the crisis and support a diplomatic solution was underscored,” he said in a statement, adding that the two also discussed bilateral relations.

“The common will to deepen bilateral cooperation through a long-lasting and institutionalized dialogue was confirmed, and it was underlined that, despite ongoing disagreements on certain issues, Turkey and the United States have an agenda far-reaching positive,” he said.

Ties between Turkey and the United States have been strained over a host of issues in recent years, including Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems and policy differences in Syria and the eastern Mediterranean. Washington imposed sanctions on Ankara in December 2020 for the S-400s.

On the other hand, Ankara claims that the biggest challenge facing Turkey-US relations is not the issue of Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, but rather the Washington’s support for the Syrian wing of the PKK terrorist organization, the YPG.

The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the United States, Turkey and the European Union, and Washington’s support for its Syrian affiliate has strained bilateral relations with Ankara. The United States has mainly partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in its fight against the terrorist group Daesh. By contrast, Turkey has firmly opposed the YPG’s presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long opposed US support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and terrorizes the local population, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.

Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the United States provided military training and supplied military support trucks to the YPG, despite the security concerns of its NATO ally. Stressing that you cannot support one terrorist group to defeat another, Turkey has carried out its own counter-terrorism operations, during which it has managed to eliminate a significant number of terrorists from the region.

As the war between Russia and Ukraine enters its second week, Turkey is trying to keep its neutral and balanced stance by keeping communication open with all parties.

Maintaining its neutral and balanced position, Turkey continues its diplomatic efforts to defuse the Ukrainian conflict, calling for restraint from all parties. While Ankara has resisted international sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow, it has also closed the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles under a 1936 pact, allowing it to prevent certain Russian ships from crossing the Turkish strait.

A NATO ally, Turkey borders Ukraine and Russia in the Black Sea and enjoys good relations with both. Since the start of the conflict, Ankara has offered to mediate between the two sides and host peace talks, also stressing its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. While recently calling the Russian invasion an unacceptable violation of international law, Turkey has carefully crafted its rhetoric so as not to offend Moscow, with which it has close ties in energy, defense and tourism.

Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın also met with the US Undersecretary of State in Istanbul on Friday.

During the meeting at Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, Kalın and Sherman discussed regional issues, particularly the war in Ukraine, and bilateral relations, according to a statement from the presidential spokesperson’s office.

Stressing the importance of stopping the war before it causes further destruction, the duo stressed that if the war continues, its effects will be devastating for the entire region and the world.

Furthermore, Kalın and Sherman agreed to intensify joint efforts to bring the negotiations between the parties to fruition.

Stressing Turkey’s readiness to host the negotiations, Kalın said Ankara is in constant contact with both sides.

They then assessed peace and stability in Syria, Libya and Afghanistan as well as Turkey-Israel relations and the Turkey-Armenia normalization process.

The statement added that Kalın and Sherman agreed on the steps to be taken for the implementation of the joint strategic mechanism.

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