US defense chief to visit Turkey amid Mosul row

– Carter to discuss regional issues including latest developments in Iraq, Syria

– Secretary of Defense Ash Carter will visit Turkey on Friday, as the Turkish-Iraqi row grows, according to Anadolu Agency.

A weeklong trip to the Middle East and Europe will first take Carter to Ankara, according to the Pentagon.

“He is scheduled to meet with Turkish leaders to discuss a range of security challenges in the region including the latest developments in Iraq and Syria” according to a statement. A defense official said Carter will stay in Turkey for a couple of hours.

The visit to Turkey comes as a rift between Ankara and Baghdad regarding Mosul has grown amid an offensive launched against Daesh terrorists in the city.

Turkey has a long-standing camp at Bashiqa, where it has trained peshmerga and Iraqi fighters in preparation for the assault on Mosul that began Monday.

Baghdad, however, recently began to complain about the presence of Turkish troops and last month a diplomatic spat erupted around the issue.

The U.S. has remained neutral on the issue, publicly calling for a diplomatic solution to the row while mediating between the two countries for the benefit of U.S.-led coalition to succeed against Daesh in Mosul.

Carter is going to head to Unıted Arab Emirates and travel to Europe for counter-Daesh coalition meetings with U.S.-led coalition defense ministers in Paris on Tuesday.

He will wrap up his travel following the fifth NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels next Thursday.

Also, the State Department said Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken will attend a ministerial meeting Oct. 20-21 in Paris and will be accompanied by Brett McGurk, special envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition.

The ministers will discuss “post-Daesh stabilization and humanitarian relief for those affected by the ongoing operation to liberate Mosul,” according to a statement.