Exclusive: the head of defense of the United States asks Turkey to stop delaying the NATO preparation plan

By Phil Stewart LONDON (Reuters) - US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper urged Turkey on Monday to stop maintaining support for a NATO defense plan for the Baltic countries and Poland, while Ankara pressures the alliance to support its fight against the US-backed Kurdish militia YPG in Syria. In an interview with Reuters before the NATO summit, Esper warned Ankara that not everyone sees the threats they see and added that he would not support labeling the YPG as terrorists to break the deadlock. He called Ankara to focus on the biggest challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The message to Turkey (...) is that we must move forward with these response plans and cannot be delayed by their own particular concerns, Esper said while flying to London. The unity of the alliance, the preparation of the alliance, means that one concentrates on the biggest problems, the most important problem is the preparation of the alliance (NATO). And not everyone is willing to sign up for your agenda. Not everyone sees the threats they see. NATO envoys need the formal approval of the 29 members for the plan to improve the defense of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia against any threat from neighboring Russia. The dispute, while NATO prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary summit, is a sign of deep divisions between Ankara and Washington especially, from the war in Syria to Turkey's growing defense relationship with Russia. Turkey wants NATO to formally recognize the YPG militia, the main component of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as terrorists and is enraged that its allies have supported the militia. Ankara blamed Washington for the current stalemate, saying it was caused by the withdrawal of the United States from the support of a separate defense plan for Turkey, which covers any possible attack from the south, where it borders Syria. When asked if Washington could agree to qualify the YPG as a terrorist to break the deadlock, Esper said: He would not support that. We will maintain our positions and I think NATO will too, Esper said. The problem is the ultimate source of friction among NATO allies, who have also disagreed over Turkey's purchase of advanced Russian air defenses, which Washington says are incompatible with NATO defenses and pose a threat to F-35 stealth fighters from Lockheed Martin Corp. Washington said in July that it was withdrawing Turkey from the F-35 program and warned of possible US sanctions. Two US senators put pressure on the Trump administration on Monday to impose sanctions on Turkey for the purchase of the Russian missile defense system and said the failure to do so sent a terrible signal. (Phil Stewart Report; Additional report by Robin Emmott in Brussels, Ece Toksabay in Ankara and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Peter Cooney Edition) This story has not been edited by The Times of India and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe. (This story has not been edited by timesofindia.com and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed to which we subscribe.)