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Turkey: If U.S. Wants Kurds at Syria Talks, Might as Well Invite ISIS Too | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrives to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France, October 12, 2016. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

If the United States wishes to invite Kurdish parties to upcoming Syrian peace talks, it might as well invite terror group ISIS too, said Turkey’s foreign minister on Saturday. Turkey views Kurdish fighters in Syria as extremists.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), have been Western allies in the Syrian conflict but are condemned by Turkey, which will co-host the peace talks in Kazakhstan with Russia set for January 23.

Turkey calls the PYD a “terror group” for its links to Kurdish separatist militants in Turkey and has blasted the US repeatedly for working with the group on the ground in Syria.

A U.S. Central Command tweet insisting its Kurdish allies were not linked to outlawed militants whipped up a storm Thursday, with Ankara asking if Washington had “lost its senses,” reported AFP.

A comment by a U.S. State Department spokesman this week that Washington believes the PYD would “have to be a part of this process… at some point” infuriated Ankara.

“We do not deny the U.S. role and contribution (to the talks), but we expect the following from the new U.S. administration: it must stop co-operating with terror groups,” he said.

“The current (U.S.) administration is making serious mistakes,” he said.

Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have become increasingly bitter in the last month, with Ankara expressing hope of a “new chapter” under President-elect Donald Trump.

Despite backing opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, Russia and Turkey are keen for a deal to end the conflict and both sides appear to think Trump’s administration could help.

The Astana talks are scheduled to begin just three days after Trump is inaugurated.

Turkey said this week that Russia had agreed the incoming U.S. administration should be present at the upcoming talks, though there was no confirmation from Moscow.