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Tillerson Says U.S. Recognizes Turkey's Right To Secure Border

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a news conference in Ankara on February 16

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said the United States recognizes Turkey’s legitimate right to secure its border during a meeting on February 16 in Ankara aimed at easing tensions between the two NATO allies.

After talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Tillerson also called on Ankara to show restraint during its operation in Syria’s Kurdish-run region of Afrin and avoid actions that could escalate tensions.

Speaking at the same news conference, Cavusoglu said Turkey and the United States had agreed on the need to normalize bilateral relations, vowing to create “mechanisms” to discuss problematic issues.

Turkey is angered with Washington's support for the Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People's Protection Units (YPG).

Turkey considers the YPG -- the top U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group -- a "terrorist" group linked to Kurdish rebels fighting inside Turkey.

Tillerson met late on February 15 with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for more than three hours, after which both sides said the discussion was productive but inconclusive.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters