U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Feb. 15 expressed condolences for the deaths of 13 Turkish hostages in northern Iraq and said Washington believed the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bore responsibility.
"Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke by phone with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu today...The Secretary expressed condolences for the deaths of Turkish hostages in northern Iraq and affirmed our view that PKK terrorists bear responsibility," said a statement released by the U.S. Department of State.
Blinken also emphasized "the importance of democratic institutions, inclusive governance, and respect for human rights" and urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system, according to the U.S. statement.
This was the first call that the top diplomats held since U.S. President Joe Biden's administration took office.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry also released a statement with regard to the phone call, saying Çavuşoğlu conveyed Turkey's displeasure with Washington's response to the killing of 13 Turkish citizens in Iraq.
Turkey summons US ambassador over statement on Iraq killings
Earlier, the Turkish Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. Ambassador to Ankara to convey Turkey's reaction over the incident.
The ministry said it communicated "in the strongest possible terms" to U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield Turkey's displeasure with the United States' response with regards to the incident.
Turkey said on Feb. 14 militants from the PKK executed the captives during a military operation against the group.
The United States said that it condemned the killings if it was confirmed that responsibility lay with the PKK.
Ankara, already angered by Washington's partnership with Kurdish fighters in neighboring Syria, was infuriated by the conditionality of the U.S. statement.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the U.S. statement showed that it "supports" the PKK and its Syrian affiliate People's Protection Units (YPG) - the group that's a major part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).