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Erdogan Meets US Secretary of State, Urges Use of ‘Legitimate’ Actors in Syria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan meets with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ankara, Turkey March 30, 2017. Yasin Bulbul/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday in Ankara for over two hours.

Tillerson also held talks with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu before meeting with the Turkish president.

Erdogan stressed the importance of working with “right and legitimate” actors in combating terrorism during the meeting, sources in Erdogan’s office said.

Erdogan also discussed with Tillerson the extradition of US-based Fethullah Gulen, which Ankara says is behind arranging the failed coup last July.

Tillerson is staying for one day in the Turkish capital seeking support from a vital Nato ally, given Turkey’s strategic geographic position between Europe and Asia, which has been a critical entryway for refugees fleeing violence in Syria, in addition to the important role Turkey plays in fighting ISIS.

The visit came after Turkey announced “Euphrates Shield”, its operation in northern Syria, had ended.

Ties between Ankara and Washington were not great during Barack Obama’s administration, mainly over US cooperation with Syrian Kurdish militia fighting against ISIS.

Tillerson and Yildirim discussed working to enhance their critical security and economic ties in the region, a State Department official said after the meeting.

In a statement, Yildirim’s office said the ministers discussed Syria and efforts to wipe out ISIS from Syria and Iraq.

Presidential sources said Erdogan told Tillerson that it was important for the fight against terror to be conducted with “right and legitimate actors”.

Tillerson told a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Turkey was a key partner in the fight against ISIS. He also added that the two nations shared a goal of reducing Iran’s potential to disrupt the region.