Turkey – Washington a Lot of Contentious Issues to be Examined

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim is due to meet Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday, when differences between Turkey and Washington will be high on the agenda.

Yildirim, who arrived on Tuesday on a four-day visit, will meet Pence at the White House before travelling to New York. President Donald Trump is currently on a tour of Asia.

It is Yildirim’s first visit to the U.S. as Turkish premier and he is accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Energy Minister Berat Albayrak.

Yıldırım was welcomed by Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Serdar Kilic after landing at Andrews Joint Air Base, 20 miles (32 kilometers) outside the U.S. capital.

Among the issues expected be discussed will be the visa row between the countries. The dispute was prompted by the arrest of Turkish staff at U.S. diplomatic missions in Turkey but appears to be moving towards resolution.

Economic and military ties, Syrian refugees and instability in Syria and Iraq will also come up for discussion.

But more contentious issues are also expected be examined, including the refugee crisis on Turkey’s border, a visa row, Daesh, the PKK/PYD terror groups and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Turkey has requested from the U.S. the extradition of Fetullah Gulen, the head of FETO, who is accused of being behind a deadly failed coup that martyred 250 people.

Ankara has complained of Washington’s slow pace in processing the request since the attempted putsch in July 2016, although a decades-old extradition treaty exists between the two NATO allies.

The two governments have found themselves at odds regarding the fight against Daesh.

Turkey has protested U.S. support for the PKK/PYD, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S., while Washington sees it as a “reliable ally” in its fight against Daesh in Syria.

For more than 30 years, the PKK has waged a terror campaign against Turkey leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 security forces and civilians — including more than 1,200 since July 2015 alone.

The U.S. Secretary of Defense on Wednesday reaffirmed Washington’s support to Turkey in its fight against terrorist threats, including the PKK terrorist organization.

Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana W. White said in a statement that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met with his Turkish counterpart, Nurettin Canikli at the NATO meeting of defense ministers in Brussels “to reaffirm the longstanding defense relationship between the United States and its NATO ally, Turkey”.

Recalling a previous meeting between the two on Aug. 23 in Turkish capital Ankara, White said “the secretary thanked the minister for Turkey’s continued, critical contributions to global security and the fight to defeat ISIS [Daesh]”.

“Secretary Mattis acknowledged the threats posed to Turkey, and reiterated that the U.S. will continue to stand with Turkey in its fight against the PKK and all terrorist threats,” she said.

Mattis and Canikli also agreed to continue their full range of bilateral defense activities and consultations, and look for ways to further strengthen defense cooperation in the future, according to the statement.