Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the U.S. European Command commander, visited Ankara, Turkey, today for discussions with senior Turkish leaders.
In a statement released to the media following the visit, he thanked Turkish Chief of the General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar for the invitation and noted that they have had “many positive conversations and I deeply value our relationship.”
Scaparrotti also offered his condolences to the families of those killed in the terror attack Saturday in Gaziantep -- located in southern Turkey near the Syrian border. “Our hearts go out to them and to all of those in Turkey who have suffered so much from terrorism and violence in these past few months,” he said.
The attack on a Kurdish wedding party is believed to have been carried out by a child suicide bomber, Turkish authorities announced Sunday. At least 53 people -- many of them children -- were killed in the explosion and another 69 were injured.
“Both NATO and the United States count on the courage and bravery of the Turkish people,” said Scaparrotti, also NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe. “We are grateful for the sacrifices made by their service members, particularly in the fight against [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]. And Turkey can count on NATO and the United States. The alliance stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Turkey and is committed to partnering with them to promote security throughout the region.”
Turkey is fundamental to security on Europe’s southern flank, the Eucom commander said. “It sits at the cross-roads of the many challenges we face in Europe, from the refugee crisis, to terrorism, to human trafficking. We are thankful for their leadership and contributions in each of these areas, and for access they have granted us to their bases, which are critical to our operations,” he said.
“We will continue to build relationships with our Turkish allies and cooperate closely with Turkey in order to defend against common threats and ensure a Europe that is whole, free and at peace,” Scaparrotti said.