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Turkey’s president Erdogan to meet US delegation in Ankara

Written by on 16/10/2019

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he plans to meet a US delegation which is travelling to Ankara in the hope of convincing him to halt a military offensive in northeast Syria.

Mr Erdogan earlier told Sky News he wouldn’t receive US officials led by US Vice President Mike Pence, and would only speak to President Donald Trump.

Mr Pence and secretary of state Mike Pompeo are among high-profile US officials expected to engage with Mr Erdogan as his military invasion of northeast Syria faces growing international condemnation.

In an earlier address to the Turkish parliament, Mr Erdogan also said he was ready to stop the military offensive, but only if Syrian Kurdish forces recede deeper into Syria.

He said the Kurds would need to pull back at least 35km (21 miles) away from the Turkish border into Syria and clear the 900km (560 mile) stretch from the Iraqi border to the town of Manbij, which the US forces abandoned on Tuesday.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan greets members of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, Turkey on Wednesday

Image: President Erdogan greets members of his ruling AK Party in Ankara

Mr Erdogan’s comments were part of a defiant speech, in which he said there was no question of Turkey backing down.

Afterwards, he told Sky News “I am standing strong” when asked about the possibility of an immediate ceasefire and negotiations with Kurdish fighters, who are considered terrorists by Ankara because of their links to militants waging an insurgency in Turkey.

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The country’s invasion into northeast Syria has resulted in a new power balance in the region.

On Sunday, President Trump ordered a full withdrawal of US troops as the Turkish offensive advanced, which was seen as a betrayal by the Kurds who were a strong ally of America in the battle against Islamic State militants.

The offensive left the Kurds with little choice but to seek protection from Russia and President Bashar al Assad’s forces, who have swiftly moved into the area that the US forces vacated.

The United Nations and a number of Turkey’s NATO allies, including Germany and France, have called for Mr Erdogan to stop the offensive, as reports of civilian causalities and allegations of war crimes started to emerge.

President Trump also announced a set of sanctions to punish Ankara on Monday.

Mr Erdogan is expected to meet Mr Trump in Washington on 13 November.

 Sky News

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