Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently traveled to Turkey to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The visit built on three mutual long-term goals: working together to defeat ISIS, also known as DAESH; building stability in the region; and bolstering economic ties between the United States and Turkey.
Turkey is a longstanding NATO Ally and the United States is grateful for Turkey’s important contributions as a member of the counter-ISIS coalition.=
Over the past 18 months, the U.S. military’s ability to operate from Turkish bases has enabled the U.S.to increase operations against ISIS by 25 percent without using additional aircraft.
The Turkish government has stopped the influx of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria. And Turkish troops have permanently pushed ISIS off the Turkish-Syria border.
The United States stands alongside Turkey, “in its fight to stop terrorism directed against its country and its people,” said Secretary Tillerson.
Turkey has shown leadership by helping to alleviate the ongoing refugee crisis stemming from the conflict in Syria. In four years, Turkey has accommodated more than 3 million refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and done much to provide them food, shelter, health care, and education.
“We look to Turkey as a key partner for stabilization effort in areas once held by ISIS,” said Secretary Tillerson, “and for ensuring our [nongovernmental organization] and UN partners can continue to provide humanitarian relief services inside and outside of Syria.”
Secretary Tillerson also urged deeper trade and investment ties with Turkey. “Bilateral trade and goods between our two countries was more than $17 billion in 2016, and we’re eager to grow that number,” he said.
The United States and Turkey share many broad goals: reducing Iran’s ability to disrupt the region; finding a settlement in Syria that allows Syrians to return home; and supporting Iraqis to build a strong, independent, and inclusive government in Baghdad.
In the United States, said Secretary Tillerson, “the people of Turkey have a trusted ally and a partner who is committed to its safety and security and advancing economic opportunity.We look forward to approaching these challenges together, and the Trump administration will continue to build ties with this longstanding ally” and friend.