Work has accelerated on Manbij roadmap: Turkish FM

Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterates roadmap 'must be fully and immediately implemented'

Servet Günerigök   | 07.02.2019
Work has accelerated on Manbij roadmap: Turkish FM

Washington DC

By Servet Gunerigok


Work on the roadmap for ridding Manbij, Syria of PKK/YPG terrorists has accelerated, Turkey’s foreign minister said Wednesday. 

Speaking to members of the Turkish press in Washington, Mevlut Cavusoglu said the U.S. had been responsible for a slowdown in the roadmap. 

"There has been an acceleration when compared to the past...In particular, the U.S. administration and Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo are asking for immediate implementation of this [roadmap].

He said Ankara and Washington would not have experienced tensions if the Manbij deal had been implemented earlier. 

Despite the progress, however, Cavusoglu said the roadmap "must be fully and immediately implemented". 

Turkey has vowed to carry out a counter-terrorist operation in Syria, east of the Euphrates, following two similar successful operations since 2016.

The Manbij deal between Turkey and the U.S. focuses on the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the city to stabilize the region, which is located in the northern part of Syria’s Aleppo province.

-Safe zone 

On a possible safe zone in Syria, Cavusoglu said concrete ideas have yet to emerge on the issue and Turkey has been holding talks with Russia and working to coordinate with the U.S. 

"It is important what we understand about a ‘safe zone’. That is, if a buffer zone that will safeguard terrorists is envisaged or desired, we are against that," said Cavusoglu. 

He said Turkey will support a solution that will address its concerns and bring stability to Syria.

In his remarks, Cavusoglu also said Turkey is aware that some countries had financially encouraged radical groups in Syria to breach an agreement signed by Ankara and Moscow last year to establish a demilitarized zone in the country’s last opposition stronghold of Idlib. 

- Syria pullout 

Cavusoglu also said Ankara and Washington were carrying out joint efforts regarding the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Syria and Turkey's security concerns. 

A joint mission force has been formed between Ankara and Washington to coordinate the latter's pullout from the war-torn country, he said. 

U.S. President Donald Trump made the unexpected decision in December to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, drawing criticism from many allies and security aides, including his own Cabinet.

The decision came after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in which the two leaders agreed on the need for more effective coordination in the war-ravaged country.

Earlier in the day, in his speech at a meeting of foreign ministers from member countries of the U.S.-led coalition to defeat Daesh, Cavusoglu called for a coordinated effort to eliminate the remnants of the Daesh terror group in Syria and for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region. 

"Avoidance of power vacuums that could be exploited by terrorists to undermine Syria’s territorial integrity and neighbors’ national security will be essential," he told the meeting.

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