By Merve Aydogan
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Wednesday said ratifying of the pre-agreed roadmap for cooperation on Manbij, northern Syria, tops the agenda of his visit to Washington on June 2-3.
In an interview with A Haber, Cavusoglu said: "This action plan [on withdrawal of YPG] could be applied by the end of summer. Turkish and American soldiers will jointly supervise the withdrawal."
He said the roadmap of the agreement is based on a "concrete schedule" and that implementation of the agreement will begin as soon as preparatory efforts are done.
Underscoring the importance of the agreement between Turkey and the U.S., he said it is aiming to achieve "stability in all of Syria's northeast," as it will not be limited to Manbij alone.
Following a visit by former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara in February, Turkey and the U.S. established a mechanism to address separate issues in working groups, including the stabilization of Manbij and to prevent any undesirable clashes.
Regarding the F-35 fighter jet deal with U.S., Cavusoglu said: "Turkey has fulfilled its obligations until now. Made its payments on time, not only for this F-35 deal. It is a comprehensive and a strong legal agreement that even includes production of replacement part."
He said there is no reason for the U.S. to not give F-35 fighter jets to Turkey and added: "Such serious project cannot be cancelled with an artificial reasoning."
In case of delivery of the fighter jets delayed or cancelled, Cavusoglu said Turkey would explore other markets.
"In the worst case scenario, we will attempt to buy it from other countries or other allies if we need to [...] Turkey would not be left without a solution or an alternative."
However, he asserted that such approach by the U.S. would not be appropriate as the two countries are NATO allies.
In 2014, Turkey placed an order for the first two F-35 jets for the projected fleet of 100 F-35A aircraft and plans to deploy the aircraft by 2019.
The F-35s will replace the aging fleet of F-4 and F-16 aircraft. The first delivery of the F-35s to Turkey is slated for June 21.
- 'Iran must support fight against PKK'
Responding to a question about possible operation in the northern Iraq's Mt. Qandil, headquarters of the terrorist PKK, the YPG/PKK’s parent group, Cavusoglu stressed that all units are conducting operations against the terror group as necessary.
"In fight against the PKK, Baghdad administration, Erbil, the U.S. and Turkey must fight together," he added.
Responding to another query, Cavusoglu asserted the significance of Iran's support and noted some of PKK terrorists escape to Iranian side.
"Here, Iran must be on our side in counter-terrorism. Because the PKK and PJAK are the same terror group," he said.
On recent reports about German Chancellor Angela Merkel inviting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Berlin after Turkey’s June 24 elections, Cavusoglu stressed there is no official invitation as there was no invitation letter given to him by the Chancellor during their meeting at the Solingen commemoration ceremony in Dusseldorf.