By Nilay Kar Onum and Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
Pushing the button to mend bilateral ties, Turkey and the U.S. reaffirmed their mutual and unequivocal commitment to each other’s security and to the preservation of Syria’s territorial integrity in a joint statement on Friday.
The two countries -- as allies and strategic partners for over 65 years -- see their relations as “vital to furthering their shared goals and interests as well as to the promotion of democracy,” according to the statement.
The statement -- released after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson met in Ankara -- also said Turkey and U.S. reaffirmed their commitment to resolving outstanding issues in the bilateral relationship.
Relations between the two countries have been strained over U.S. support for the terrorist group PYD/YPG/PKK in northern Syria, which the U.S. has called a “reliable ally” in fighting Daesh.
The two countries “agreed to establish a results-oriented mechanism,” which will be activated no later than mid-March.
They also reaffirmed their determination to jointly combat terrorism in all its forms: “Turkey and United States reiterate their resolve to fight against Daesh, PKK, Al-Qaeda and all other terror organizations and their extensions.”
“We recognize the right to self-defense of our countries against terrorist threats directly targeting our nations,” it added, possibly referring to the current Turkish-led counter-terrorist Operation Olive Branch against Daesh and the PYD/PKK in Afrin, northwestern Syria.
Syria’s territorial integrity
The two countries also reaffirmed their commitment to preserving Syria’s territorial integrity and national unity.
“We will decisively stand against all attempts to create faits accomplis and demographic changes within Syria,” the statement said.
Ankara and Washington highlighted that “there can only be a political solution to the Syrian crisis”.
The two countries, the statement also said, agree to intensify their cooperation to “bring about this result within the framework of established parameters, namely UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva process.”
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011, when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
While UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, Syrian regime officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000.