- A US delegation, including Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is going to Turkey on Wednesday to ask its president for a ceasefire in northern Syria.
- But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will ignore Pence and Pompeo because he will only deal with President Donald Trump.
- “I am not going to talk to them, they will be talking to their counterparts,” he told Sky News. “When Trump comes here I will talk.”
- Syria is currently ravaged by shelling and gunfire at the hands of Turkish troops.
- Erdogan said late Tuesday that “no ceasefire is possible” until Kurdish forces evacuate the area near Turkey’s border. Turkey sees the Kurds as terrorists.
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to speak to US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when they go to his country, saying that he only deals with President Donald Trump.
They are scheduled to fly to Turkey on Wednesday night to discuss a potential ceasefire in northern Syria, which is currently being ravaged by shelling and gunfire by Turkish troops. The Turkish incursion came after Trump abruptly withdrew US troops from the region, leaving the US’ Kurdish allies to fend for themselves.
Robert O’Brien, the US National Security Adviser, and Jim Jeffrey, special envoy for Syria, are also on the mission.
Erdogan flat-out refused to meet the US delegation on Wednesday. When asked by Sky News’ Alex Crawford if the US demand for a ceasefire worried him, he said via a translator: “Why would we be? I am not going to talk to them, they will be talking to their counterparts.”
“When Trump comes here I will talk,” he added.
Pence had been scheduled to meet Erdogan personally on Thursday,NBC News reported, citing his office.
Erdogan appeared to row back his comments later on Wednesday and said that he would meet Pence and Pompeo on Thursday, according to a tweet from his spokesman.
NEW — Erdogan will meet VP Pence and Pompeo tomorrow, Erdogan’s Communication Director announces on twitter. https://t.co/4qGFxUx7z1
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) October 16, 2019
Turkey faces international pressure to call off an offensive which started on October 9, which has seen shelling across much of northern Syria, with hundreds of Kurds killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.
The US’ withdrawal from Syria effectively abandoned its Kurdish allies, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), with whom it had been fighting ISIS under a coalition named the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Turkey to punish it over the incursion earlier this week. However, Erdogan refused to call off the invasion late Tuesday night.
“Mr President [Trump] demanded that we declare a ceasefire. We never will,” Erdogan said, according to the country’s pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper.
“No ceasefire is possible in Syria until the People’s Protection Units evacuates the border area. I told him [Trump] that Turkey will not negotiate with terrorists.”
Erdogan also said on Tuesday that Turkey will press on into Syria until they have established a 260-mile wide “safe zone” along running parallel with the Turkish border between Iraq and the Mediterranean Sea.
After the US’ departure, the SDF allied with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s forces to fight off the Turks, who are slowly driving south into Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin – whose forces are allied with Assad’s – called Erdogan on Tuesday and invited him to visit Russia and discuss a ceasefire, the Kremlin said in a statement, which Erdogan accepted.
Russian forces are currently acting as a buffer between the Turks and Syrians.
- Read more:
- Long before the US pulled out, Kurds in Syria were keeping back channels to Russia and Assad wide open
- Turkey’s president pulled one over on Trump – and some of the US’s most dangerous adversaries are the big winners
- In just one week, Trump’s Syria retreat has caused the nightmare scenario everyone warned him about
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