US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Ankara on Thursday ahead of talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey seeks better relations with the new administration in Washington.
Tillerson is the most senior American official to visit Turkey since the inauguration of President Donald Trump in January and he is due to also meet with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
Officials from the NATO allies said the ministers would discuss issues including the Syrian conflict, now in its seventh year.
The visit comes after Turkey announced its military offensive in northern Syria was over, without detailing whether that signified withdrawal of its troops from the war-torn country.
Ties between Ankara and Washington were strained under the Barack Obama administration over the US’s cooperation with Syrian Kurdish militia fighting the ISIL Takfiri group.
Ankara views the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a “terror group” linked to Kurdish separatists waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984, but Washington regards them as the best force fighting ISIL.
There were also tensions with the Obama administration over the extradition of US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey accuses the Muslim cleric living in self-exile of ordering last year’s failed coup against Erdogan. Gulen denies the charges but Ankara has repeatedly called for his extradition.
Turkish officials hope relations will improve under Trump’s administration and said Washington appears to be taking the Gulen issue “more seriously” though the administration has not openly expressed any change.
But there was cause for tension on Wednesday after the US detained a senior Turkish state bank executive.
Halkbank’s Mehmet Hakan Atilla is accused of helping to process millions of dollars of illegal transactions through US banks for Iran’s government and other Iranian institutions.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildrim said Ankara would bring the issue up and would closely monitor the legal process.
Turkey also voiced anger on Thursday after it emerged that the US consulate in Istanbul had contacted a chief suspect accused of plotting the attempted putsch, who is currently on the run.
The US embassy in Turkey said its Istanbul consulate contacted theology lecturer Adil Oksuz only to inform him that his American visa had been revoked.
Yildirim said the embassy statement was not enough.
Oksuz was detained in the aftermath of the putsch but then released and is now on the run.
Trump’s CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, came to Ankara last month in his first foreign visit after Trump’s inauguration in January.