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US top general talks Syria, NATO with new Turkey counterpart

Gen. Mark Milley's first announced call with newly appointed Turkish armed forces chief Metin Gurak follows reports that the United States is exploring alternate routes for Ukraine's grain exports.
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - MAY 25: Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon May 25, 2023 in Arlington, Virginia. Milley and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin briefed members of the press following an online session of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Washington’s outgoing top general, Mark Milley, spoke by phone Wednesday with his counterpart in Turkey, Metin Gurak, in their first announced contact since Gurak was appointed defense chief earlier this month.

According to a Pentagon readout of the call, the two discussed “several items of mutual strategic interest, including NATO, Syria and the security environment in eastern Europe.”

A Turkish readout simply said the pair “exchanged views on current developments.”

Why it matters: Washington has been seeking opportunities to improve ties with its NATO ally after relations frayed due to Ankara’s outreach to Russia, acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system and US military support for Kurdish-led factions fighting the Islamic State in Syria along Turkey’s southeastern border.

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