Turkey hopes to develop ‘healthier’ relations with US


Speaking to the media shortly before departing for Baku, PM Binali Yıldırım said that he hoped Turkey would develop better relations with the U.S after Rex Tillerson's exit as secretary of state.

Turkey's prime minister said Wednesday he hoped relations between the U.S. and Turkey would improve after Rex Tillerson's exit as secretary of state.

Speaking to reporters in Ankara before leaving for Baku, Azerbaijan, Binali Yıldırım said: "Whoever comes in, Turkey's stance is clear. It's not so important to us what the new secretary thinks about Turkey."

"I hope healthier relations [with the U.S.] could be developed after this," he said.

Ties between the U.S. and Turkey do not depend on individuals, he added, calling Tillerson's exit, expected to be replaced by CIA Director Mike Pompeo, an "internal" U.S. matter.

The White House and State Department have had a number of high-profile clashes during Tillerson's tenure as America's top diplomat, including a glaring split during the dispute between Qatar and its Arab Gulf neighbors.

President Donald Trump and Tillerson have also been at odds on a number of key foreign policy issues, including climate change and the nuclear deal with Iran.

"We disagreed on things," Trump told reporters about Tillerson on Tuesday. "When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's terrible, I guess he thought it was OK. I wanted to either break it or do something, and he felt a little bit differently."

Yıldırım also said that it was "no secret" that Ankara has some problems with Washington, which Turkey has seen as an ally and strategic partner in the region for years.

Ties between the two countries have been strained over U.S. support for the terrorist group PYD/YPG/PKK in northern Syria, which the U.S. has called a "reliable ally" in fighting Daesh, with Turkey pointing to its status as the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK.

The terrorist PYD/YPG/PKK harming innocents while enjoying support and protection from the U.S. has disturbed Turkey, he said.

"If any other disturbing situations arise, Turkey will give the necessary response to this as well," he said, talking about current counter-terrorist Operation Olive Branch and its predecessor, Operation Euphrates Shield, both just across Turkey's border with Syria.

Operation Olive Branch targets the PYD/YPG/PKK terrorist presence in Afrin, northwestern Syria, along the Turkish border.

"We hope the U.S. sooner or later understands this way [policy on the YPG/PKK] is wrong and that it will develop healthier relations with Turkey, which has been diligently contributing to the security of the region and global security for years."

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