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Tillerson leaves Ankara with no new enemies — or friends

The US secretary of state seems to have made little progress on his first official trip to Turkey, where Rex Tillerson is believed to have confirmed the administration’s decision to press ahead with plans to capture Raqqa with the help of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara, Turkey, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX33CKX

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson completed his first official trip to Turkey since taking office, apparently without resolving any of the fundamental differences that have sunk relations between the two NATO allies to their weakest since the 2003 occupation of Iraq.

There are multiple sources of friction: Washington has so far refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen, the Muslim cleric Ankara accuses of engineering the failed July 15 coup. On Monday, a senior executive of one of Turkey’s largest state-owned banks was arrested in the United States on charges of conspiring to evade trade sanctions on Iran. Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla is accused of plotting with Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader with close ties to the Turkish government who was arrested in Miami a year ago for similar offenses. Turkey called the arrests politically motivated.

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