US Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday wrapped up a key visit to Turkey without a breakthrough on military co-operation in the Syrian crisis but with officials confident the talks brought their positions closer.
During his three-day trip to Istanbul, Biden held several hours of talks with both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the crises created by the capture by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadists of swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Washington has been frustrated by the relative lack of support offered by fellow Nato member Turkey for the US-led coalition against ISIS, which has taken towns in Syria right up to the Turkish border.
After four hours of talks with Erdogan on Saturday, the pair did not announce any new Turkish contribution to the coalition but Biden insisted the bilateral relationship was “as strong as ever it has been.”
US officials described the talks as the latest step forward in finding common ground on Syria after Erdogan’s meetings with US President Barack Obama at the Nato summit in September and with Biden himself on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
A senior US official insisted that the lack of a major announcement should not be seen as a failure and the two sides had a far better mutual understanding of their respective positions than a few months ago.
“We are in complete agreement that ISIS needs to be defeated,” said the official.
“We agree on the major objectives of the strategy.”