U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday the United States and Turkey are having an open dialogue about their growing differences, and are "finding common ground", AP reported.
According to AP, speaking at the close of a NATO defence ministers meeting, Mattis presented a more calm and understated view of the escalating rhetoric over America's continued aid to the U.S.-backed Kurdish militants in Syria.
"I believe we are finding common ground and there are areas of uncommon ground where sometimes war just gives you bad alternatives to choose from," Mattis said, as quoted by AP.
Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said he has asked that the U.S. end its support for the Kurdish militants and remove them from a U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)
Canikli said he told Mattis that U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as YPG, has helped Kurdish rebels in Turkey "to grow and strengthen," posing an increasingly "existential" threat to Turkey. Canikli said he presented documents to Mattis proving "organic" links between the Syrian Kurdish YPG and Kurdish PKK militants, which has waged a decades-long armed conflict in Turkey.
Mattis characterized the overall conversations as "absolutely open and honest dialogue." And he insisted that the two countries are "coming together on what we can do together."
Canikli said Mattis told him that the United States believed it was possible to ensure that the YPG turns against Kurdish PKK militants fighting in Turkey. Canikli, however, said he rejected this assumption, insisting that it was "impossible and unrealistic" for the two entities to go against each other.
The Turkish minister also said that Mattis told him that the U.S. was working on plans to take back weapons supplied to the YPG.