Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Turkey's Erdogan to meet Trump in US about Syria 'safe zone'

Ankara has accused Washington of stalling progress on establishing zone

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington next month to discuss the Syrian 'safe zone'. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson//File Photo
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to meet US President Donald Trump in Washington next month to discuss the Syrian 'safe zone'. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson//File Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US leader Donald Trump have agreed to meet in Washington next month to discuss the "safe zone" in northern Syria, the Turkish presidency said on Sunday.

Mr Erdogan told Mr Trump of his "frustration over the US military and security bureaucracy's failure to implement the deal" agreed to in August to establish a buffer zone on the Turkish border, the presidency said.

It said that the visit would take place after an invitation from Mr Trump.

There had been expectations in Turkey of a meeting about Syria last month at the UN General Assembly, but it did not take place.

Mr Erdogan raised the pressure on Saturday by warning that Ankara could launch a cross-border offensive "as soon as today, tomorrow"US.

Turkish state media also reported on military reinforcements sent to the border with Syria after Mr Erdogan's comments.

Washington has sought to stop a Turkish operation against a US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia considered by Ankara to be a "terrorist" offshoot of militants in Turkey.

The US worked closely with the People's Protection Units (YPG) militia against ISIS, capturing large areas of territory from the extremists.

After difficult US-Turkey talks ended with the August agreement, Turkish and American forces held joint ground and air patrols in northern Syria.

But Turkey has accused the US of stalling over the establishment of the safe zone.

The two leaders discussed the zone during a call yesterday in which Mr Erdogan told Mr Trump it would create the "necessary conditions" for Syrian refugees to return home.

Turkey is hosting more than 3.6 million Syrian refugees but there has been a growing public backlash in recent months against their presence.

With some western capitals concerned about the effects of a Turkish operation on the fight against ISIS, Mr Erdogan insisted Turkey would take the "necessary precautions" to ensure was no extremist resurgence in the region.

Turkey twice launched military operations against ISIS in 2016 and the YPG in 2018, supporting Syrian rebels to take territory in northern Syria.

Updated: October 7, 2019 01:50 AM

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