The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has visited Turkey where he is due to meet the Turkish Prime Minister, the Chief of the General Staff, the Foreign and Defence Ministers, and Under Secretary for Defence Industries.
The visit, the first by a Defence Secretary for five years and the first by a senior UK minister since the Turkish election will underline the UK’s strong support – bilaterally and through NATO – for Turkey.
It will involve detailed discussions on:
- How the two countries can work together to better target ISIL leaders in Iraq, as well as financial and oil infrastructure, and lines of communication;
- How NATO can best demonstrate solidarity with Turkey in the face of Russian incursions into its airspace;
- Tackling the flow of foreign fighters, including from the UK;
- Boosting moderate opposition elements in Syria, in the face of regime, Russian, Iranian and ISIL attacks and;
- Opportunities for UK industry through Defence exports and collaboration programmes.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
It is vital that the UK and Turkey work closely to tackle terrorism. We want to do more together to target key ISIL figures and infrastructure, and to stem the flow of foreign fighters.
We will also stand firmly behind our NATO ally in the face of Russian incursions into its airspace. Turkey’s border is NATO’s border and it must be respected.
With growing instability in the region it is more important than ever that the UK cements the already strong ties with Turkey. The visit will allow the Defence Secretary to recognise the key role Turkey is playing in the counter-ISIL Global Coalition air campaign and demonstrate the UK’s resolve to provide support and reassurance through NATO in deterring unhelpful Russian behaviour.