Politics, World, Middle East

NATO welcomes US-Turkey's 'closer cooperation' in Syria

Turkey 'most affected' by turmoil, violence and presence of Daesh in Iraq and Syria, NATO chief says

Hatice Kesgin   | 08.09.2016
NATO welcomes US-Turkey's 'closer cooperation' in Syria


TBILISI, Georgia

NATO chief welcomed on Thursday closer cooperation between its key partners U.S. and Turkey in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

Speaking at the National Parliamentary Library Tbilisi in Georgia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “I welcome closer cooperation between the different countries in the coalition fighting ISIL [Daesh] and especially between U.S and Turkey because they are key in the fight against ISIL to NATO allies.

“And I think it is of great importance that they work closer together in the fighting against ISIL, also of course in Syria.”

He underlined that NATO would continue to fight against all terrorist organizations and any threat against its allied countries.

He also said NATO had increased its presence in Turkey to increase its capability to protect itself against different kind of attacks.

Stoltenberg added the ongoing turmoil in Syria had affected Turkey.

“Turkey, a NATO ally, is perhaps most affected by the turmoil, the violence and presence of ISIL in Iraq and Syria,” two countries which lie on Turkey’s borders, he added.

On Aug. 24, Operation Euphrates Shield was launched, which aims at improving security, supporting coalition forces and eliminating the terror threat along Turkey’s border using Free Syrian Army fighters backed by Turkish armor, artillery and jets.

Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011 when the regime of Bashar al-Assad cracked down on pro-democracy protests.

Later, speaking at a joint news conference in Tbilisi with President Giorgi Margvelashvili, Stoltenberg said: “After this press conference I will go directly to Turkey to Ankara and that will be my fifth visit to Turkey as the secretary-general.

“I will during my visit to Turkey once again express NATO’s firm and strong support to Turkey, to the Turkish people and to the democratic institutions of Turkey.”

Stoltenberg said NATO provides support to Turkey as a member of the alliance. “We have increased naval presence and we have also increased our presence in the air space over Turkey with surveillance planes, AWACS planes providing surveillance over Turkey,” he said.

“In addition we have also deployed defensive missile defense systems to augment the air defenses of Turkey against a potential missile threats.”

Stoltenberg said that during his visit in Ankara he would discuss what more NATO could do for its ally.

NATO secretary-general said he would meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, and Turkish ministers and representatives of different political parties on Friday.

“We will continue to support Turkey, we will continue to support the democratic institutions of Turkey and my visit to Turkey later on today will once again confirm that Turkey is a highly valued ally of the NATO alliance,” he added.   

On Thursday evening, Erdogan met Stoltenberg at the presidential palace in Ankara. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also attended the meeting, which was closed to the media and lasted for an hour.  

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