Discussions with senior Turkish officials include Qatar, possibly Gulen
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 Wednesday.
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 Daesh, Ankara’s key role as a NATO ally and maintaining close ties to Turkey on a range of economic and other issues.
An official at the State Department told Anadolu Agency, he expects Turkey’s security concerns to come up. "I expect that Secretary Tillerson will discuss Syria broadly and some of the specifics with his counterparts,” he said. "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 would not say, however, if the status of terror leader Fetullah Gulen would be discussed.
“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.”
Gulen has lived in exile in the U.S. for a number of years and is accused of being behind a failed overthrow of the Turkish government last July.
Turkey has sought his extradition to face the changes but has been frustrated with the pace of the U.S. government in processing Ankara’s request despite there being a treaty between the two nations.
Turning to Qatar, officials said Turkey and the U.S. have been looking at the situation in the Gulf region and Washington hopes Ankara would play a supportive role by trying to get all parties to calm down and find a settlement that works for all.