LONDON --- U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged Turkey on Monday to stop holding up support for a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland, as Ankara presses the alliance to support its fight against U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG militia in Syria.
In an interview with Reuters ahead of the NATO summit, Esper warned Ankara that "not everybody sees the threats that they see" and added he would not support labeling the YPG as terrorists to break the impasse.
He called on Ankara to focus on the larger challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"The message to Turkey ... is we need to move forward on these response plans and it can't be held up by their own particular concerns," Esper said as he flew to London.
"Alliance unity, alliance readiness, means that you focus on the bigger issues – the bigger issue being the readiness of the (NATO) alliance. And not everybody’s willing to sign up to their agenda. Not everybody sees the threats that they see."
NATO envoys need formal approval by all 29 members for the plan to improve the defense of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia against any threat from neighboring Russia. (end of excerpt)
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