The meeting is the first between Obama and Erdoğan since a coup attempt in Turkey failed in July
Ankara wants the US to extradite a Pennsylvania-based Turkish cleric for alleged involvement
President Barack Obama will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of this week’s Group of 20 meetings in China to discuss efforts against ISIS, the White House said on Monday.
The meeting, the first between Obama and Erdoğan since a coup attempt in Turkey failed in July, comes amid differences in strategy against ISIS. The US has condemned Turkish strikes on opposition groups in Syria, saying they are distracting from the fight against ISIS, also known as ISIL.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter cautioned Turkish forces Monday against advancing further south of the Syrian city of Jarablus and clashing with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
“We have called upon Turkey to stay focused on the fight against ISIL and not to engage” the SDF, Carter said while speaking to reporters at the Pentagon alongside his Indian counterpart.
He signaled US support for Turkey’s effort to liberate Jarablus and ISIS-controlled areas to the west. He also noted that the US had asked the Kurdish YPG to withdraw their forces east of the Euphrates and said “they are doing that.”
Obama’s meeting is the latest in a string of high-level US officials’ outreach to Turkish leaders. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden visited Turkey personally.
Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, said the meeting between Obama and Erdoğan would focus on those issues, as well as expressing US support for Turkey in the aftermath of the coup attempt.
Turkey, however, has taken issue with the US response. In particular, Ankara is currently asking the US to extradite a Pennsylvania-based Turkish cleric for alleged involvement in the attempted overthrow, but Obama administration is demanding evidence of participation.
While in China, Obama is also planning to meet formally with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss climate issues and cybersecurity concerns, the White House said. He’s also likely to interact with Russian President Vladimir Putin, though no formal sit-down is scheduled.
When Obama travels to Laos later in the week, he’ll sit for talks with the controversial new leader of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, who has drawn criticism for harsh tactics in his battle against drugs.
The US has expressed concerns about extrajudicial killings of drug dealers after Duterte’s tough rhetoric about battling crime. Rhodes said he expected Obama to raise those concerns with the close American ally in their meeting in Laos.