Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s planned visit to Washington on March 19 has been postponed, his spokesman said on Thursday, following the U.S. decision to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.
The spokesman did not give a reason for the decision. On Wednesday, Cavusoglu said he hoped to build good relations with new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo but he must respect Turkey, amid deep tensions over Syria policy and other issues.
Turkey has been angered by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in the fight against Islamic State. Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
There had been signs of an easing in strains between the NATO allies after a recent visit to Turkey by Tillerson, whom U.S. President Donald Trump sacked on Tuesday as secretary of state.
But Turkish media has seized on a tweet purportedly made by Pompeo after a failed coup in July 2016 – and before he became CIA director – which referred to Turkey as a “totalitarian Islamist dictatorship”. The tweet was later removed.
Turkey has been angered by the U.S. failure to extradite the Pennsylvania-based cleric Ankara whom blames for orchestrating that attempted putsch and by the conviction of a Turkish banker in an Iran sanctions-busting case.