ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday told U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis that Turkey felt unease over U.S. support for Kurdish militant group YPG, presidential sources said.
In a statement following meetings between Mattis and Turkish officials, the sources said the two sides emphasized the importance of maintaining the territorial integrity of Syria and Iraq, as Kurdish northern Iraq gears up for an independence referendum in September.
During the meeting, Erdogan told Mattis that Turkey was “uneasy over the U.S. support” for the YPG, presidential sources told journalists.
The Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq — whose Peshmerga security forces are playing a key role in the fight against IS — is planning its own independence referendum next month.
Mattis met on August 22 with Iraqi Kurdish leader Masud Barzani in Irbil to express U.S. opposition to the referendum.
Erdogan and Mattis reaffirmed their opposition to the vote, the Turkish presidential sources said on August 23.
Both Turkey and the United States have voiced concerns over the referendum, with the former’s Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, saying earlier on Wednesday he would ask Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to cancel it.