The United States and Turkey Approach Shared Challenges, Strengthen Ties

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, Turkey, on March 30, 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ankara, Turkey, on March 30, 2017.

The United States and Turkey Approach Shared Challenges, Strengthen Ties

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson traveled to Ankara, Turkey, on March 30, to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior Turkish government officials.

During a press availability following his meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Secretary outlined three mutual long-term goals on which their conversation focused:   working together to defeat Daesh/ISIS; building stability in the region; and bolstering economic ties between our two nations.

The discussions between Secretary Tillerson and Foreign Minister Cavusoglu reaffirmed that we will prevent the resurgence of Daesh in previously held territory, and aggressively stop the emergence of new terrorist threats on the ground as well as the recruitment of terrorists online.

The thanked Turkey for their partnership in the effort to defeat ISIS noting, “Over the past 18 months, the U.S. Military’s ability to operate from Turkish bases has enabled us to increase operations against ISIS by 25 percent without the utilization of any additional aircraft required. The Turkish Government has stopped the influx of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria. Turkish troops have permanently pushed ISIS off the Turkish-Syria border. And the United States is grateful for Turkey’s important contributions as a member of the counter-ISIS coalition, including the participation last week of Foreign Minister Cavusoglu at the recent coalition meetings hosted by the State Department in Washington.”

In addition to highlighting the importance of Turkey’s role to help defeat ISIS, Secretary Tillerson praised Turkey’s efforts to build regional stability. The Secretary outlined multiple broad regional goals for both the United States and Turkey, such as reducing Iran’s ability to disrupt the region; finding a settlement in Syria that allows Syrians to return home; and supporting Iraqis to build a strong, independent, and inclusive government in Baghdad.

On bolstering economic ties between our nations, Secretary Tillerson discussed ways our two nations can deepen our trade and investment ties. “Bilateral trade and goods between our two countries was more than $17 billion in 2016, and we’re eager to grow that number. American and Turkish scientists collaborate on research to improve energy efficiency, health, and education under the framework of the U.S.-Turkey Science and Technology Agreement. And we’re also fostering public-private partnerships that support technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship. We will work with the Turkish Government and the private sector to expand economic cooperation that benefits both of our countries,” he noted.

As he concluded his statement, Secretary Tillerson underscored,  “In the United States, the people of Turkey have a trusted ally and a partner who is committed to its safety and security and advancing economic opportunity. We look forward to approaching these challenges together, and the Trump administration will continue to build ties with this longstanding ally and our friend.”

Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.

For more information:

  • Secretary Tillerson’s remarks at a press availability with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.