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Tillerson to Visit Ankara Thursday, Discuss Pending Matters | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Rex Tillerson speaks during an Economic Club of Washington event in Washington, DC. (AP Photo / Kristoffer Tripplaar)

Ankara – Turkish diplomatic sources said that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would visit Ankara on Thursday to discuss with his Turkish counterpart, Melvut Cavusoglu, bilateral relations and efforts to fight terrorism.

He is also scheduled to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the same sources.

Discussions will also touch on the issue of handing over exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is currently residing in the US and accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed July 2016 coup attempt.

The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that Tillerson would review with Turkish officials developments in Syrian and Iraq and the establishment of safe zones in northern Syria.

An official statement by the US State Department said: “US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Ankara, Turkey, on March 30, to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other senior Turkish government officials, continuing the United States’ high-level engagement with our NATO Ally.”

“Secretary Tillerson will reaffirm Turkey’s important role in ensuring regional stability, and he will discuss the way forward with our campaign to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” the statement added.‎

The Secretary of State will visit NATO in Brussels, Belgium on March 31st, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, US sources said on Friday that the US Secretary of State’s visit to Ankara would be decisive with regards to the US-led campaign to regain the city of Raqqa.

Turkish officials have warned that Washington’s reliance on Kurdish forces to liberate the ISIS’ de facto capital would damage its relationship with Ankara.

The US administration is currently discussing whether to continue supporting Kurdish forces’ advance on Raqqa, or shift US support to Turkey and its allies.