By Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
ANKARA (AA) - U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has reaffirmed America’s commitment to face down terrorist threats alongside Turkey.
"The United States will continue to stand with Turkey in its fight against the PKK and all terrorist threats," said a Pentagon statement on Thursday, quoting Mattis in his meeting in Brussels with Turkish National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.
The Pentagon statement, provided by chief spokeswoman Dana W. White, said the two met at NATO’s defense ministers meeting late Wednesday "to reaffirm the longstanding defense relationship between the United States and its NATO ally, Turkey."
"Following their Aug. 23  meeting in Ankara, the secretary thanked the minister for Turkey's continued, critical contributions to global security and the fight to defeat” Daesh, the statement said.
"Secretary Mattis acknowledged the threats posed to Turkey, and reiterated that the U.S. will continue to stand with Turkey in its fight against the PKK and all terrorist threats," it added.
Mattis and Canikli furthermore agreed to continue their "full range of bilateral defense activities and consultations" and look for ways to further strengthen defense cooperation in the future, said the Pentagon.
The meeting came amid continuing tension between Ankara and Washington over the U.S. allying itself with the PYD/PKK, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, while Turkey is targeting the same terrorist group in its Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria, across Turkey’s border.
The U.S. has said the PYD/PKK is a “reliable ally” in its fight against Daesh, against strong protests by Turkey, which has highlighted the PYD/PKK’s continuing terrorist threat to both Syrians and Turkey’s border regions.