U.S, Turkey agree to normalise relations

Turkey’s president

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president

Turkey and the U.S. have decided to “establish mechanisms” to normalize relations between them, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday, after weeks of escalating anti-American rhetoric from Ankara.

Speaking at a joint news conference with his U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Cavusoglu said Turkey and the United States will hold another meeting by mid-March.

Tillerson met with President Tayyip Erdogan and had a “productive and open” talk on late Thursday, according to a U.S. State Department spokesman traveling with Tillerson.

Earlier, Turkey proposed to the U. S. that Kurdish YPG fighters withdraw to east of the Euphrates river in Syria and that Turkish and U.S. troops be stationed together in the country’s Manbij area, a Turkish official said.

The proposal could mark a breakthrough in efforts to overcome the NATO allies’ stark differences over Syria policy. Relations have recently neared a breaking point over U.S. support for the YPG militia, seen as terrorists by Turkey.

The official, who declined to be identified because the information had not been made public, said the United States was considering the proposal, which was made to Tillerson during his two-day visit to Ankara.

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The U.S. did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Turkish proposal.

Tillerson arrived in Turkey on Thursday for two days of what officials have said would likely be uncomfortable discussions between the allies.

Turkey launched an air and ground assault in January in Syria’s northwest Afrin region to drive the YPG from the area south of its border. Ankara considers the YPG to be an arm of the PKK, a banned Kurdish group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

Ankara has long called for YPG forces to move east of the Euphrates river in Syria.

It has also previously threatened to push its troops to the town of Manbij, some 100 km east of the Afrin region. U.S. troops are already stationed near Manbij.

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