Vice President Joe Biden on Monday will visit Turkey next week amid escalating concerns about the role Ankara is playing in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State.
Biden starts in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, where he will huddle with top officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan, new Argentinian President Maricio Macri, Iraqi President Haider al-Abadi and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
But it's the vice president's visit to Turkey that could have the biggest impact, considering U.S. pressure on Ankara to do more to fight the self-described Islamic State and tighten its border with Syria.
It's clear that Turkey can take action against the Islamic State when it wants to and feels directly threatened. This week, officials there claimed to have killed nearly 200 Islamic State fighters in retaliation for a deadly suicide bombing in Istanbul that left 10 German tourists dead.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday that the military also had reacted by using tanks and artillery to target 500 positions along its border with Syria and Iraq.
Biden will meet with civil society groups in Istanbul on Friday and has meetings planned with Davutoglu and Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan for Saturday.
U.S. officials believe the recent Islamic State attacks there have underscored the need for Ankara to devote more resources to the fight.
"One thing that is a little different than the last time Biden was [in Turkey] in November 2014 is the concern that the Turks have for the ISIL threat is a bit higher than it was before — there's an acute awareness of the threat ISIL poses to Turkey," a senior administration official told reporters Friday, referring to the acronym the U.S. government uses to refer to the Islamic State.
Peace talks in Vienna, Austria, aimed at finding a political solution to Syria's deadly five-year civil war will resume later this month.
The talks now include all sides of the conflict, including those supporting fighter aimed at ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and those backing his regime, including Iran and Russia.
The late January meetings will focus on a national ceasefire, along with ongoing efforts to form a political transition to usher Assad from power.
"I think there's a real opportunity here," a senior Obama administration official said Friday.