23:52 GMT17 May 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his US counterpart Patrick Shanahan have held a meeting at the Pentagon, during which they discussed Turkey’s concerns over US support for the Kurdish-led forces there, which Ankara sees affiliated with the PKK, listed as a terror group by Turkey, the Turkish Defence Ministry said.

    "The Minister of National Defense H.E. Hulusi Akar met with U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan today at the Pentagon to reaffirm the defense relationship between Turkey and the United States… Minister Akar and Acting Secretary Shanahan discussed a broad range of issues, including bilateral defense cooperation matters, operations to defeat DAESH [IS, ISIS, terror group banned in Russia] in Syria and Turkey’s concern with U.S. support of the YPG/PYD, the Syrian branch of the PKK", the ministry said in a statement.

    The two defence chiefs expressed their commitment to continued cooperation to ensure the "political unity and territorial integrity of Syria", the statement added.

    During the talks, Akar emphasised that Turkey was determined to fight various terror organisations, including Daesh*, PKK, the Syrian YPG and PYD groups, and the movement of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, considered by Ankara as the mastermind of a 2016 Turkish coup attempt.

    "The two Ministers reiterated the importance of the deep-rooted strategic partnership between Turkey and the U.S. as well as the ongoing cooperation within the NATO alliance, including in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and NATO maritime activities", the statement pointed out.

    Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces, Gen. Yasar Guler, and Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, participated in the meeting at the Pentagon as well.

    Washington's support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), operating in the north of Syria, and groups affiliated with them, has been one of the stumbling blocks in US-Turkish relations.

    The Pentagon, for its part, added that during the meeting, the two defence chiefs also discussed Turkey's plans to purchase the Russian S-400 air defence systems.

    READ MORE: Turkey Slams US-Led Coalition Members for Supporting Militants in Syria's Idlib

    "The leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues, including operations to defeat ISIS in Syria and the United States’ concern with Turkey’s potential purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system. They agreed to continue cooperating to achieve stability and security in northeast Syria. Secretary Shanahan acknowledged the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship is 'foundational to regional security' and thanked Minister Akar for Turkey’s commitment and support to the NATO alliance in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and NATO maritime activities", the Pentagon said in a statement.

    The United States has been pressuring Turkey, its NATO ally, to abandon its plan to buy the cutting-edge S-400 missiles, which Turkey estimates to be three times cheaper than the $3.5 billion order for US anti-aircraft weapons.

    *Daesh, also known as Islamic State (IS), ISIS or ISIL is a terror group banned in US, Russia and many other countries.


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