1 August 2018 - 09:43
US general to visit Turkey

TEHRAN Aug. 01 (MNA) – General Curtis Scaparrotti, head of US European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander, is set to pay a visit to Ankara on Aug. 1 amid heightened tension between Turkey and the US.

The general will discuss the situation in northern Syria, state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish officials as saying. The meeting is expected to focus on developments regarding the presence of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the region and a roadmap on the Syrian city of Manbij.

The visit comes amid strained relations between Turkey and the US over a host of issues. Relations plunged further after US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence threatened sanctions on Turkey if pastor Andrew Brunson, who was placed under house arrest on July 25 after nearly two years behind bars on terror charges, is not freed.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 28 the spat between Turkey and the United States over Brunson and the threat of sanctions coming from Washington amounts to “psychological warfare.”

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also responded, saying that Turkey was governed by the rule of law. “We will never tolerate threats from anybody,” Çavuşoğlu said on Twitter. He later held two phone calls with his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo.

Despite strongly-worded statements from both sides, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on July 27 that the two militaries remain “on good terms,” pointing to joint patrolling activities in the northern Syrian town of Manbij.

Scaparrotti will also visit the İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana. The commander will then visit the Aegean province of İzmir, where Brunson is under house arrest.

The US Congress has been preparing a defense bill that would block the transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey unless Ankara releases jailed US citizens and employees and cancels the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia.


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