Turkey is confident its relations with the U.S. will improve significantly under President-elect Donald Trump, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said on the eve of Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president.
At the top of Turkey’s list of issues, he said in an interview, are its request for U.S. extradition of Fethullah Gulen, the Pennsylvania-based Turkish cleric charged with orchestrating last summer’s coup attempt, and U.S. dependence on and support for Syrian Kurdish fighters that Turkey considers terrorists.
I AM CONFIDENT THAT THERE IS DEFINITELY A BETTER UNDERSTANDING
“I am confident that there is definitely a better understanding” of both concerns by Trump, said Cavusoglu, who came for the inauguration and met this week with Michael T. Flynn, the president-elect’s designated national security adviser. “We need to rebuild mutual trust,” he said, noting that “anti-Americanism is on the rise in Turkey.”
Amid high global anxiety over Trump, Turkey and Russia are among the few nations who are sure that things are about to get much better.
U.S. relations with Turkey, a NATO ally, have slumped under President Obama. Both countries are members of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State and the U.S.-organized international group seeking a solution to Syria’s civil war.
In recent months, Turkey has turned to Russia to help solve the Syria problem that the United States accuses the Kremlin of fueling with its military and political support for President Bashar al-Assad. The two, along with Iran — Assad’s other ally — have organized a cease-fire and peace conference between the Assad government and its armed opponents, to begin Monday in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Cavusoglu said the conference, part of a process from which the Obama administration was excluded, hopes to solidify the cease-fire, which he said both Assad and Iranian allies have violated, and to initiate direct talks between the sides on the ground prior to United Nations-sponsored peace negotiations in early February.
TRUMP HAS PROMISED IMPROVED TIES WITH RUSSIA
Trump has promised improved ties with Russia, and Flynn received a personal invitation late last month from Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Although the incoming administration has not formally replied, Cavusoglu said he is certain that Trump will send a representative.
This week, Turkish and Russian warplanes for the first time flew joint strike missions in support of Turkish troops advancing on Islamic State positions in and around the northern Syrian town of al-Bab. The United States had advised against the al-Bab operation and demurred on requests for direct air support as Turkish ground forces ran into trouble in the area about 30 miles south of its southern border.