US to continue with Turkey on Syria issue
US Air Forces Commander for Europe and African said Friday that Turkey is an incredibly important NATO partner and the alliance remains committed to Ankara as an ally.
"From a US perspective, clearly, as the US in coordination with NATO has talked about what has occurred with the [Russian] S-400 [missile defense system], that is a challenge, and it’s a problem that in the short term is one that we are going to have to continue to work our way through, recognizing that there’s no room for an S-400 to be operating inside of Turkey," Gen. Jeffery L. Harrigian told a news conference.
"THERE WILL ALWAYS BE TENSION"
He emphasized that the US will continue to work with Turkey in terms of military-to-military perspective and cooperation remained very strong.
"There will always be areas that there will be tension, areas that we have to work our way through, but I will assure you that the work that we’re accomplishing together with our Turkish partners remains very solid," he said.
"From where I sit, my job is to ensure that we continue to have the strong relationship with Turkey that we have right now, and I will share with you that I have several Turkish officers that are on my staff at Allied Air Command and they are phenomenal officers that do fantastic work for me," Harrigian added.
Asked about the Incirlik airbase in Adana, Harrigian said camaraderie and teamwork at the Turkish base between the two countries are exemplary.
"CONFIDENCE IN WORKING TOGETHER"
"Having said that, the location of Incirlik provides me as the commander multiple options when we talk about access to Syria, access to the west or to the east if required. "So strategically it remains an incredibly important location and one in which we have a great relationship that’s really been fostered over years and years of trust and confidence in working together," he said.
Harrigian said a safe zone recently agreed to by the US and Turkey needed to get to a point where the two countries had a shared understanding of where they were going to operate, how they were going to operate, and that took some time.
"To deliver this in such a short period of time is really a tribute to our relationship with the Turkish military, but also to those young folks on the ground that are actually delivering the mission," he added.