US sees Turkey as a ‘challenge’ for overall control of NATO


The US wants to bring Turkey “back into the fold,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday as he warned again about Ankara drifting away from its NATO partners.

Washington is concerned that recent arms deals with Russia and its recent incursion into northern Syria mean Turkey is slipping away from the military bloc. Esper’s comments came ahead of US President Donald Trump’s meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House on Wednesday.

“We need Turkey back in the fold. They’ve been good allies for many years, all the way back to fighting alongside the United States in the Korean war, up to (its) presence with us in Afghanistan,” Esper told reporters.

The defense secretary said the US needs to continue to build ties, particularly at the military-to-military level, to ensure the two countries have “an enduring relationship that will get us through this tough period right now.”