DAILY SABAH WITH AA
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday discussed the anticipated safe zone in northern Syria with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump. In the phone call, Trump also invited Erdoğan to meet in Washington in November.
The two leaders exchanged views on the proposed safe zone in the area east of the Euphrates River, in addition to bilateral issues, a statement from the Turkish Presidency read.
“The president reiterated that the creation of a safe zone is key to neutralizing the threat stemming from PKK-(People’s Protection Units) YPG terrorists and creating the conditions necessary for the return of Syrian refugees to their native country,” the statement added.
Erdoğan also stressed that Turkey is committed to fighting Daesh terrorists in Syria, and “will take all necessary precautions” to prevent similar problems from arising in the future.
According to the statement, Erdoğan also shared with Trump his frustration over the U.S. military and security bureaucracy’s failure to implement the agreement between their two nations.
“The two leaders agreed to meet in Washington next month, per President Trump’s invitation,” it said.
On Aug. 7, Turkish and U.S. military officials agreed to set up a safe zone in northern Syria and develop a peace corridor to facilitate the movement of displaced Syrians who want to return home. They also agreed to establish a joint operations center.
Turkey has long championed the idea of terrorist-free safe zones in Syria. It has stressed ridding the area of the terrorist YPG, the PKK’s Syrian branch with whom the U.S. has partnered in its fight against Daesh, as well as resettling Syrian migrants currently sheltered in Turkey.
Turkish leaders have said the U.S. is not doing enough to establish the safe zone, which could house some 2-3 million Syrians who fled the Syrian civil war since 2011.
Turkey currently hosts some 3.6 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country in the world. Ankara has so far spent $40 billion for the refugees, according to official figures.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU — has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.