Tillerson arrived in Turkey on Thursday for two days of what officials have said would likely be uncomfortable discussions between the allies, whose relations have frayed over a number of issues, particularly US support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, seen as terrorists by Turkey.
Turkey has proposed to the United States that Kurdish YPG militia fighters withdraw to east of the Euphrates river in Syria and that Turkish and USA troops be stationed together in the country's Manbij area, a Turkish official said on Friday.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ahead of a meeting at the presidential complex in Ankara on Thursday (Friday in Manila). "We're going to work through the issues that are causing difficulties for us and we're going to resolve them", Tillerson told a news conference after a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
"We find ourselves at a bit of a crisis point in the relationship", Tillerson said.
Tillerson said the first working group would deal with the issue of the town of Manbij, held by the USA -backed Syrian Kurdish militia and where the United States has a military presence.
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For his part, Tillerson said the US and Turkey will work together in Syria, where Turkey is conducting a cross-border military operation to fight the Kurdish militia.
Last week, a top U.S. general said his forces would "respond aggressively" to any Turkish-backed attack on Manbij.
"Our relations were at a critical turning point", Cavusoglu said. This brought increased strain between the US and Turkey as the USA -led coalition had announced it was working with the SDF to build a new 30,000-strong border force.
The U.S. supports Kurdish fighters, known as the YPG, because of the value of the partnership in combating the Islamic State militant group.
Such a joint deployment could take place if YPG fighters first withdrew to positions east of the Euphrates river, long a Turkish demand.
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Analysts say the level of tension was similar to 2003 when Turkey refused to let USA troops operate from its territory for the Iraq war, or even the aftermath of Ankara's invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
Turkey's military campaign against Kurds in northern Syria has alarmed USA leaders who have watched as the fighting has sapped energy from the fight against remaining Islamic State strongholds. "So that will be a topic of discussion in terms of how we go forward to ensure Manbij remains within our control because of its strategic importance".
Tillerson called on Ankara to "show restraint in its operation" while insisting that Turkey and the United States "share the same objectives in Syria".
According to Canikli, Mattis said the US believes it is possible to ensure that the Kurdish forces in Syria turn against Kurdish rebels fighting in Turkey. The United States has a military presence in Manbij. "We're going to work together moving forward".
On Friday, February 14, pro-Ankara forces maintained pressure on Kurdish paras in Afrin, striking in the region's west and scoring a small advance that has so far led to the capture of Hassan Kalkawi and Jalma - two co-joining villages.
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