November 13, 2019 / 9:13 PM / in 7 months

Pentagon's Esper wants Turkey 'back in the fold'

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper smiles during the NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium October 25, 2019. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Wednesday it was important to bring Turkey “back in the fold” as he renewed warnings that Ankara appeared to be drifting away from NATO with this year’s arms deal with Russia and its incursion into Syria.

“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 a small group of reporters.

“So we need to continue to build the ties, particularly at the (military-to-military) level, to ensure we can have an enduring relationship that will get us through this tough period right now.”

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Mary Milliken and Chizu Nomiyama

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