PM Yıldırım says Turkey won’t start a war with US over YPG row

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LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim speaks to media after performing Friday Prayer at Mayfair Islamic Centre, in London, England on May 12, 2017. AFP

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Friday that the US decision to provide arms to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) would harm bilateral relations, although “it doesn’t mean that [Turkey] would start a war with the US.”

Speaking to BBC in London, where he is on an official visit, Yıldırım said US authorities assured Turkey that “the region’s demographics would not change” as a result of the upcoming campaign to retake Raqqa.

This [arming of the YPG by the US] will not help to finish off the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). On the contrary, it will create more problems. I hope the US understands that. I was told [by US authorities] that it is not a choice but a requirement. They have said their cooperation with the YPG will end after defeating ISIL in Raqqa. We will wait and see,” he said.

On Wednesday, Yıldırım reacted to a US decision to provide arms to YPG militia in Syria in the fight against ISIL, saying it was unacceptable.

A week ahead of his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a plan to provide arms to Kurdish militia in Syria, a key US ally in the fight against ISIL and considered critical in the drive to recapture Raqqa, the terrorist group’s de facto capital.

Erdoğan: Turkey wants a new beginning with US

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L-3) and his wife Emine Erdogan (L) are welcomed by Turkish Ambassador of Beijing Ali Murat Ersoy and Chinese Ambassador of  Ankara Yu Hongyang ahead of his official meetings in Beijing, China on May 12, 2017. AFP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L-3) and his wife Emine Erdogan (L) are welcomed by Turkish Ambassador of Beijing Ali Murat Ersoy and Chinese Ambassador of Ankara Yu Hongyang ahead of his official meetings in Beijing, China on May 12, 2017. AFP

Meanwhile, President Erdoğan said on Friday that his upcoming visit to the US and talks with Trump will constitute a new beginning in Turkish-US ties.

Speaking to reporters at Ankara Esenboğa Airport before his departure for China on Friday, Erdoğan said he hopes that that Washington will reverse its decision to arm the YPG, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization due to its ties with outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

I see my visit as a new beginning in Turkish-American relations. We have observed that some of the information [on arming the YPG] we received [from Washington] is insufficient. God willing, this visit will be a new beginning in that regard,” he said.

Erdoğan will travel to the US on May 15 directly from China, where he will attend an international forum.

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