WASHINGTON, April 13, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık discussed their nations’ bilateral defense relationship and the threats posed by terrorism during a meeting at the Pentagon today.
Before the meeting, Mattis noted that the United States and Turkey have an enduring security relationship that dates back to 1952, when Turkey became a member of NATO and the two nations fought alongside each other in the Korean War.
“This relationship continues today, with United States and Turkish military forces working together to counter a wide range of threats to our common security,” the secretary said.
Mattis called Turkey an essential NATO ally and a vital member of the coalition to defeat ISIS. Integrated coalition air operations from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey and Turkish soldiers who fought ISIS close to the Turkish border in Operation Euphrates Shield have shown the high priority both nations place on the campaign, he added.
“I also recognize and salute the humanity of the Turkish government and the Turkish people in managing the Syrian refugee flow and the associated humanitarian challenges,” the secretary said. “And I commend Turkey for its fast response to ensure the victims of the Assad regime’s hateful chloric gas attack received treatment in Turkish hospitals.”
‘Support and Appreciation’
Işık expressed Turkey’s “support and appreciation” for the U.S. operation launched in response to the Assad regime’s chemical attack, adding that he hopes it will “deter the regime from its barbaric attacks with or without chemical weapons.”
“Today, we will discuss ways and means to eliminate threats emanating from terrorism in our region,” he said. “In this regard, we will address outstanding issues an all challenges to regional and into national security, which requires determined and necessary actions from us.”
After the meeting, Dana W. White, chief Pentagon spokesperson, issued a statement summarizing the discussion between the defense leaders.
“The secretary thanked Turkey, our NATO ally, for its critical contributions to global security in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and the fight to defeat ISIS,” she said.
Mattis reaffirmed the close and enduring U.S.-Turkish defense relationship and committed to stand with Turkey in the fight against terrorism, both from ISIS and the Kurdistan Workers Party terrorist group, known as PKK, White said.
Mattis and Işık agreed to continue their full range of bilateral defense activities and consultations, and to look for ways to further strengthen defense cooperation in the future, she added.