Recently confirmed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Friday on the margins of the NATO Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Brussels to discuss Syria and a range of bilateral issues.
According to a statement issued by State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert, “The secretary and Foreign Minister agreed on the value of U.S.-Turkish partnership in the region and of maintaining close communication. Secretary Pompeo conveyed the Administration’s concern for U.S citizens and Mission Turkey local staff detained in Turkey. Building upon prior discussions on Manbij, the two reaffirmed their support for the established bilateral process to find a common way forward. They also discussed the United States’ commitment to supporting Turkey’s national security concerns.”
Relations between Turkey and the United States have been strained in the last year over the arrest of Turkish employees at US missions in Istanbul and Adana, the US military support for the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria, considered by Ankara to be an offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and the continuing arrest and trial on “terrorism” charges of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who many, including US senators, believe to be a political hostage held by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to force the extradition of Turkish Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, accused by the Turkish government of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.