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McMaster meets with Turkish counterpart amid tensions

McMaster meets with Turkish counterpart amid tensions
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE's national security adviser H.R. McMaster met with his Turkish counterpart in Istanbul last week amid growing tensions between the two countries.

McMaster and Ambassador Ibrahim Kalin discussed priorities for the two countries, as well as their "long-term strategic partnership," according to a statement from the White House. 

The statement also said the two officials discussed strategies to combat terrorism and regional developments. 

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U.S.-Turkish tensions spiked  after Turkey last month embarked on an offensive called “Olive Branch” against Kurdish forces in Afrin, a region in northern Syria.

The Department of Defense last month slammed Turkey's offensive, calling it a distraction. 

“Turkey is an ally and we’re going to work with them, but this current issue offensive is a distraction and we have to focus as allies on the mission at hand and that’s defeating ISIS,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. 

While the U.S. has worked to strengthen the Syrian Kurdish force, called the YPG, to help combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist organization within its borders.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said Turkey warned the U.S. before it launched airstrikes in northern Syria. 

"They warned us before they launched the aircraft they were going to do it, in consultation with us," he said. 

“And we are working now on the way ahead. We’ll work this out.”