Turkey, Americas

Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

Mike Pompeo is currently on 9-nation tour of Middle East following Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from Syria

12.01.2019
Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

Ankara

By Tevfik Durul

ANKARA 

Turkey’s foreign minister and his U.S. counterpart spoke over the phone, Turkish diplomatic sources announced on Saturday.

Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mike Pompeo discussed the latest developments in Syria, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The phone call came during Pompeo's nine-nation tour of the Middle East, which is aimed at reassuring allies following U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal decision from Syria. 

"Today, we discussed the latest developments and the steps that should be taken [in Syria]," Cavusoglu said on Saturday at an event in Turkey's southern Antalya province.

Cavusoglu said Washington decided to withdraw its troops from Syria after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's firm stance against removing threat coming to Turkey from east of the Euphrates River in Syria.

He added Turkey will not seek permission from anyone on its fight against terrorist organizations.

Last December, Trump announced plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, claiming that American forces had defeated Daesh there.

Senior U.S. officials and lawmakers have called on Trump to not abandon the PYD/YPG as he pulls out of Syria. National Security Advisor John Bolton conditioned the exit on guarantees from Turkey not to attack the group -- angering Ankara.

Turkey has criticized the U.S. working with the terrorist PKK/PYD to fight Daesh, saying that using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.


- Turkey's concerns along Syria border

State Department's deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement that the two ministers agreed on the importance of continuing U.S.-Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria.

"Secretary Pompeo reiterated the United States’ commitment to addressing Turkish security concerns along the Turkey-Syria border," said Palladino.

He added Pompeo also stressed the importance that the U.S. places on the protection of forces, namely PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK terror organization.

*Servet Gunerigok in Washington, Suleyman Elcin in Antalya contributed to this story. 


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