Istanbul (AFP) - If the United States wants to invite Kurds to the upcoming Syrian peace talks it might as well invite the Islamic State jihadist group too, said Turkey's foreign minister Saturday whose country views Kurdish fighters in Syria as extremists.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG), have been Western allies in the Syrian conflict but are condemned by Turkey, which will co-host the peace talks in Kazakhstan with Russia set for January 23.
Turkey calls the PYD a "terror group" for its links to Kurdish separatist militants in Turkey and has blasted the US repeatedly for working with the group on the ground in Syria.
A comment by a US State Department spokesman this week that Washington believes the PYD would "have to be a part of this process... at some point" infuriated Ankara.
"If you are going to invite a terror group to the table then you might as well invite Al Nusra and Daesh," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters, referring to the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, known previously as Al-Nusra Front, and the so-called Islamic State (IS).
"We do not deny the US role and contribution (to the talks), but we expect the following from the new US administration: it must stop co-operating with terror groups," he said.
"The current (US) administration is making serious mistakes," he said.
It was not the first diplomatic spat over the heated Kurdish issue this week.
A US Central Command tweet insisting its Kurdish allies were not linked to outlawed militants whipped up a storm Thursday, with Ankara asking if Washington had "lost its senses".
Relations between the US and Turkey have become increasingly bitter in the last month, with Ankara expressing hope of a "new chapter" under President-elect Donald Trump.
While Washington has played a key role in attempts to bring Syria's warring parties to the negotiating table in the past, it has been notably absent from the cooperation between Ankara and Moscow to broker a nationwide ceasefire that is meant to pave the way for the January 23 peace talks.
Despite backing opposite sides in the Syrian conflict, Russia and Turkey are keen for a deal to end the conflict and both sides appear to think Trump's administration could help.
The Astana talks are scheduled to begin just three days after Trump is inaugurated.
Turkey said this week that Russia had agreed the incoming US administration should be present at the upcoming talks, though there was no confirmation from Moscow.
A representative for the Syrian Kurds said that they had not been invited to take part.