Turkish, US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

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Turkey’s foreign minister and his U.S. counterpart spoke over the phone, Turkish diplomatic sources announced on Jan. 12.

Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu 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],” Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 12 at an event in Turkey’s southern Antalya province.

Çavuşoğlu said Washington decided to withdraw its troops from Syria after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’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, saying that American forces had defeated ISIL there.

Senior U.S. officials and lawmakers have called on Trump to not abandon the 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 YPG to fight ISIL, saying “using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.”

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 the YGP, which Ankara considers as the Syrian offshoot of the PKK and thereby as a terrorist organization.

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