US officials held talks with Syrian Kurdish group: State Dept

AFP , Thursday 16 Oct 2014

The United States has held direct talks for the first time with a key Syrian Kurdish group, whose troops have been battling the Islamic State group, the State Department said Thursday.

Previous contacts with the powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) had been handled through intermediaries but a State Department official -- who was not identified -- met with the group within the last week, spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

"We have engaged over the course of just last weekend directly with the PYD," Psaki said.

Asked if the United States was discussing the PYD's urgent appeals for weapons, she said: "I don't think we're at that point."

The meeting with the PYD took place in Paris, a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

US officials did not confirm or deny whether Secretary of State John Kerry presided over the talks. Kerry was in Paris as recently as Monday.

The armed wing of the PYD, the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), has been engaged in heavy fighting in recent weeks with the Islamic State group, trying to stave off an assault on the northern Syrian town of Kobane.

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