KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said Turkey and the U.S. "have made progress" on the use of the country’s Incirlik Air Base by American military jets.
"The U.S. planes have started to come; we will soon launch the comprehensive fight against Daesh," Cavusoglu told Anadolu Agency reporters in Malaysia on Wednesday, after holding talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
When questioned on reports that fighters trained by the U.S. and Turkey had been detained by the al-Nusra Front militant group in Syria, Cavusoglu said the kidnappings showed the lack of ability of a sole train-and-equip program in the field.
A Pentagon official told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that it had “indications” that members of the train-and-equip program were being held by the rebel group in Syria.
Since last week, reports from inside Syria have been claiming that al-Nusra disarmed and captured at least five fighters trained by the U.S. and coalition forces.
Cavusoglu said Daesh was the biggest threat in the region and had to be dealt with in strategy that is "result-oriented".
Turkey condemns Daesh
Talking to students at a conference on Turkish foreign policy at Kuala Lumpur’s International Islamic University, Cavusoglu said Ankara had listed Daesh as a terrorist organization "when nobody else had even heard of it”.
However, he also referred to fighting in northern Syria between Daesh and Kurdish groups: "You cannot say that 'my terrorist is good and your terrorist is bad'. A terrorist organization cannot be counted as ‘good’ when it is fighting with another one. Unfortunately today, this is the main understanding," Cavusoglu said.
"When this is happening, it means terrorism is winning," he added.
Turkey regards some Syrian Kurdish groups as being linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a militant organization listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and EU.
Cavusoglu said the biggest challenges to Turkey's foreign policy come from the Middle East, with political instability in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya but said that Turkey hosted refugees from Syria and Iraq without discrimination.
The foreign minister also said that Turkey had been trying to deal with racism, Islamophobia and xenophobia in Europe.
Cavusoglu is expected to leave Malaysia today after meeting with New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully and attending the farewell dinner of ASEAN's 48th Foreign Ministerial Meeting.