The defense chiefs of Turkey and the United States held a phone call on Thursday, discussing regional security and bilateral defense cooperation.
Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin exchanged views and underlined the significance of strategic relations during the talk, according to Turkey’s National Defense Ministry.
They emphasized the importance of developing a mutual understanding on the issue of regional and global security, as well as resolving issues based on their strategic partnership and the spirit of alliance.
The ministry added that Akar and Austin reaffirmed their commitment to closer cooperation and coordination while strengthening military relations between the two countries.
Akar also congratulated Austin once again on his appointment to the post in January.
The Pentagon separately said Austin thanked Akar “for the significant role Turkey is playing as part of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and in support of the ongoing peace process there.”
“The two leaders also discussed the positive diplomatic developments and efforts to reduce all tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the Secretary welcomed ongoing exploratory talks between NATO Allies Turkey and Greece and the commitment of both governments to this process,” it said in a statement.
“Secretary Austin noted the importance of working to strengthen U.S-Turkey military-to-military cooperation, and urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 missile defense system,” the Pentagon added.
Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 led to the then-Trump administration’s decision to expel Ankara from the F-35 joint strike fighter program over concerns that the advanced Russian anti-air system could be used to comprise the jets and are incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, has denied the S-400 poses a threat to F-35 aircraft and has maintained it would not be integrated into NATO networks.
Recently, Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın and the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan highlighted mutual efforts to solve the issues between Turkey and the U.S.
They noted that the two allies need to base their relations on mutual respect and common interests.
They also emphasized the need for mutual efforts to solve the ongoing issues related to the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system and the F-35s through a constructive engagement.
Kalın reiterated Turkey’s determination and sensitivity about the fight against the YPG/PKK, Daesh and FETÖ terrorists, the statement added.
The U.S. has primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria in the anti-Daesh fight. On the other hand, Turkey strongly opposed the terrorist group’s presence in northern Syria, which has been a major sticking point in strained Turkey-U.S. relations. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.’ support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Turkey and terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.
Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to the YPG, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns. While underlining that a country cannot support one terrorist group to fight another, Turkey conducted its own counterterrorism operations, over the course of which it has managed to remove a significant number of terrorists from the region.