US Secretary of State Tillerson to visit Turkey amid Syria rift
Secretary of State, Rex
Tillerson will soon travel to Turkey to meet senior officials and discuss a
range of bilateral and regional issues, the State Department said on July 5.
Senior State Department officials said Tillersion will first visit Ukraine before heading to Turkey on July 9-10 to attend the World Petroleum Congress, where he will receive the organization's highest honor and deliver remarks on the importance of energy security as a national security and regional priority for the U.S. and its partners.
Tillerson will also meet senior Turkish officials and underscore the importance of Turkey's partnership in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Ankara's key role as a NATO ally and maintaining close ties to Turkey on a range of economic and other issues, the State Department said.
An official at the State Department told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency that he expects Ankara's security concerns to come up during the visit.
“I expect that Secretary Tillerson will discuss Syria broadly and some of the specifics with his counterparts. This is an ongoing question of coordination that we have with Turks and that's a normal part of our dialogue on all levels,” he said.
He would not say, however, if the status of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen would be discussed. Gülen is accused of masterminding the failed July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.
“We know that this is an issue that is important to Turkey and the issue that Turkey has raised again and again. I think we have been pretty clear from the secretary on down what the legal parameters are of the Gulen question,” the official said.
Turkey has sought Gülen's extradition to face charges but has been frustrated with the pace of the U.S. legal system in processing Ankara's request, despite there being an extradition treaty between the two countries.
On the issue of Qatar and the crisis in the Arab Gulf, officials said Ankara and Washington have been looking at the situation in the Gulf region and the U.S. hopes Turkey would play a “supportive role by trying to get all parties to calm down and find a settlement that works for all.”