Europe News

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis to visit Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, with his Japanese counterparts, participates in a news conference after their U.S.-Japan Security talks at the State Department in Washington, U.S., August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will travel to Jordan, Turkey and Ukraine later this month, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Mattis will begin his trip in Jordan where he will meet with King Abdullah. Jordan is a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The visit will be Mattis’ first to Jordan as defense secretary.

Mattis will also travel to NATO-ally Turkey where he will meet top Turkish officials including President Tayyip Erdogan.

“Secretary Mattis will emphasize the steadfast commitment of the United States to Turkey as a NATO ally and strategic partner, seek to collaborate on efforts to advance regional stability, and look for ways to help Turkey address its legitimate security concerns - including the fight against the PKK,” the Pentagon said in the statement.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has fought an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984 and is considered a terrorist group by the United States, Turkey and Europe.In Kiev, Mattis will meet with the Ukrainian defense secretary and President Petro Poroshenko. A 2015 ceasefire between Kiev’s forces and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of Ukraine is regularly violated. Washington cites the conflict as a key obstacle to improving its relations with Russia.

Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Paul Simao