US pledges closer cooperation with Turkey

Wed 21 Feb 2018 02:07 GMT | 06:07 Local Time

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The U.S. said Tuesday it will start working together with Turkey “in a better fashion” so the two countries can achieve mutual goals.

State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert made the remarks at a daily press briefing after a question about a meeting between Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara last week, according to Anadolu Agency.

Nauert said Tillerson and Erdogan made a commitment to one another during the meeting and both Washington and Ankara recognized that the two countries had not worked well enough together over the past few years.

"As NATO allies and partners who both share in the interest and the shared goal of defeating ISIS [Daesh], we are now going to start to work together in a better fashion so that we can achieve those mutual goals," she added.

Turning to a question about Turkey's ongoing military operation in Syria, Nauert emphasized that the U.S. is not equipping anyone in Afrin and U.S. forces are not operating there.

"So our knowledge in terms of what is going on in Afrin is somewhat limited," she noted.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to clear PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria. 

According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey's rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN Charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military also said only terror targets were being destroyed and that "utmost care" was being taken to not harm civilians.

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