Turkey, US agree to restore normal ties (Second Lead)
Ankara Feb 16 (IANS) Turkey and the US agreed to normalise their ties after weeks of rising tensions due to Turkey s military operation in Syria Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
Addressing a joint press conference with visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Cavusoglu said the two sides will set up mechanisms to address the issues that have strained the bilateral relations Xinhua news agency reported.
"Our relations were at a critical turning point " Cavusoglu said adding that the two sides are going to either correct this or "it was going to take a turn for the worse".
The top Turkish diplomat said the two sides will hold another meeting by mid-March as part of the mechanisms.
For his part Tillerson reaffirmed the deep important relationship between the US and Turkey which he said is at "a crisis point".
He said the US and Turkey will work together in Syria where Turkey is conducting a cross-border military operation to fight the Kurdish militia.
"We are not going to act alone any longer not the US doing one thing Turkey doing another " said Tillerson who according to CNN earlier broke protocol by meeting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan without an American translator or policy aides.
The two NATO allies share the same objectives in Syria he said while pledging to fight terror group Islamic State (IS) and "other terrorist organisations" together.
While recognising Turkey s right to secure its borders Tillerson urged Ankara to show restraint in its military operation in Syria.
He was referring to the ongoing operation by the Turkish military in Afrin Syria in a bid to oust the Kurdish militia of the Kurdish People s Protection Units (YPG).
The YPG is regarded by Ankara as the Syrian affiliate of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey s southeast.
Turkey has vowed to expand its military operation to Manbij where US troops are deployed with Kurdish forces to fight the IS.
The US had warned Turkey against such a move which it said could lead to confrontation between Turkish and US troops. Tillerson said priority will be given to the issue of Manbij as the two sides work together.
Cavusoglu said once the YPG leaves Manbij then Turkey and the US could take joint steps to restore stability there and in other cities.
Tillerson also expressed concern about the local employees in the US diplomatic missions in Turkey while urging Turkey to release some American detainees.
The US-Turkey ties have been strained by a series of events since the failed coup to topple Erdogan in 2016 which was blamed on the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen who lives in exile in the US.
Washington has turned down repeated Turkish requests for extradition of Gulen. The US and Turkey halted visa services for months in 2017 after some Turkish employees at the US diplomatic missions were detained.