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After Jerusalem Row, Turkish Ambassador Heads Back to Washington

After two weeks of absence, Turkish envoy quietly returns to US capital

The Turkish Ambassador to Washington was heading back to the United States after a diplomatic row over the opening of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Turkey’s state-run TRT television said Ambassador¬†Serdar Kilic had left Ankara to resume his post after an absence of over two weeks from Washington.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meanwhile told the Hurriyet daily that Kilic would be back at work by the time he meets his US counterpart Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday.

Turkey recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Tel Aviv early this month for consultations after dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire along the Gaza border on the same day the U.S. celebrated the opening of its embassy in Jerusalem.

In Washington, Pompeo and Cavusoglu are expected to try and agree on terms for the withdrawal of U.S.-backed Kurdish militia from the Syrian town of Manbij, a move long sought by Turkey.

Relations between the two NATO allies have become increasingly bitter in recent months over issues, including the U.S. support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia.

Ankara sees the YPG as a branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting against Turkey state since 1984 while Washington insists they are part of a legitimate opposition group called the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Manbij hosts a U.S. military presence with American soldiers providing military support to the YPG in the fight against jihadists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to expand an incursion inside Syria to Manbij after clearing the western enclave of Afrin of YPG militia in January.

Cavusoglu told Hurriyet that in Washington both foreign ministers would make public a timetable on the Manbij roadmap.

“We will make a joint statement that day,” he said. “The concrete step is that YPG will be withdrawn from there,” he added.

Cavusoglu said Turkey and the United States would decide together who would replace the YPG in Manbij’s administration and security forces.

Pompeo is also expected to raise the case of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson who has been held in detention in western Turkey since October 2016 on terror and spying charges. Washington has repeatedly denounced his incarceration.

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