Senior Republican U.S. Senator John McCain was received by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday in Ankara where the fight against Daesh was discussed as well as developments in the region.
Senator McCain, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was received by President Erdoğan at the Presidential Complex in Beştepe, Ankara for a meeting that reportedly lasted one hour and 20 minutes. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım was also present for the meeting.
The meeting comes after McCain previously highlighted the importance of U.S.-Turkey relations, saying the partnership between the NATO allies is more important than ever due to the ongoing conflict in Syria and Iraq.
Ankara reportedly conveyed its dissatisfaction with the U.S. in its partnership with the PKK's Syrian offshoot the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the fight against Daesh while also discussing possible partnerships between the U.S. and Turkey for the Raqqa offensive. Meanwhile, sources also said the establishment of a terror-free safe zone, a possibility that has been voiced both by President Erdoğan and his American counterpart U.S. President Donald Trump, was also discussed during the meeting.
Relations between Turkey and the U.S. hit rock-bottom during the Obama administration for a number of reasons. Namely, the U.S.'s reluctance to arrest and extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen despite the extradition treaty between the two countries, coupled with the Obama administration's support for the PKK's Syrian offshoot the PYD's armed wing the People's Protection Units (YPG) terrorists under the guise of fighting Daesh in northern Syria. Turkish officials anticipate that President Trump will not repeat the mistakes made by the Obama administration regarding U.S.-Turkey relations, expressing expectations for Washington to extradite Gülen and halt cooperation with the PKK terrorist organization's Syrian offshoot the PYD/YPG.
Since Trump's arrival at the White House, there have been several high-level meetings between Ankara and Washington, including Trump-Erdoğan and Yıldırım-Pence phone meetings, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu's meeting with Rex Tillerson, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo's visit to Ankara and the meeting between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Prime Minister Yıldırım over the weekend in Munich, Germany. In addition, last Friday the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford visited Turkey, where he met Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar. During the meeting, the two generals also discussed the position of Turkey and the U.S. with regards to the Raqqa operation, military sources said.