U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Turkey on Friday to push the NATO ally to step up its role in the international coalition of fighting the Islamic State (IS) group, Xinhua reported.
Biden's meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would focus on "cooperation in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the al-Sham in Syria and Iraq; and coping with the humanitarian crisis caused by the conflicts on the other side of Turkey's southern border," a statement from the White House said on Tuesday.
While playing down their differences on the Syrian crisis, Biden said at a joint press conference with Davutoglu that the United States and Turkey have been "always direct with one another " and "tackled a number of very contentious issues, regionally and internationally, and we've always eventually come out on the same side."
Davutoglu said that to establish permanent stability in Syria, the international community should develop a comprehensive strategy, and that Turkey and the U.S.' approaches have been playing an important role in solving the disputes.
"We are working together in solving the crisis mainly in Middle East and in many international issues," he said.
The two also highlighted the close cooperation between Ankara and Washington in fighting the IS, especially in Syria and Iraq, saying that intelligent units, diplomacy and military officials of the two countries have been long in close contact and had intense meetings both in Washington and Ankara.
However, more disagreement still exists over whether Turkey decided to let the United States use its Incirlik base for operations against extremists in Syria and Iraq.
Erdogan insists that if the United States wants his help, it must focus less on fighting the IS and more on toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The Turkish president wants the U.S.- led coalition to set up a security zone in northern Syria to give moderate fighters a place to recoup and launch attacks.
The United States, however, has no appetite to go to war against the Syrian government and has said that a no-fly zone against Syria's air force is a no-go.
It's Biden's first visit to Turkey since he criticized the country's inaction against the IS during a speech at Harvard University in early October. His comments then angered Erdogan, who said "Biden has to apologize for his statements" or become " history to me."
Biden arrived in Istanbul after his trips to Morocco and Ukraine. He is to meet Erdogan for a working lunch at the Beylerbeyi Palace.