US delegation to visit Turkey ahead of meeting between Trump and Erdogan
Donald Trump confirmed the meeting with Turkish leader next Wednesday
A US delegation will head to Turkey on Saturday to meet high-ranking members of its government ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the White House next week.
The US State Department said on Wednesday that the special envoy for the global coalition against ISIS, James Jeffrey, would travel to Turkey “for meetings with senior Turkish officials and members of the Syrian opposition".
The meetings are expected to take place on Saturday and Sunday in Ankara and Istanbul.
The department said Mr Jeffrey would leading an inter-agency delegation to discuss matters including the situation in north-east Syria, implementing the UN Security Council resolution on resolving the Syrian conflict, and an enduring defeat of ISIS.
US President Donald Trump called Mr Erdogan on Wednesday and confirmed their meeting at the White House next week.
Mr Trump tweeted that he had “a very good call” with the Turkish president.
“He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict, including a wife and sister of terrorist killer [Abu Bakr] Al Baghdadi,” he said.
Turkish authorities said they arrested Rasmiya Awad, Al Baghdadi’s oldest sister, on Sunday, a week after the ISIS leader died in a US raid on his compound in Idlib.
Mr Erdogan's meeting on November 13 will be his first with Mr Trump in the White House for more than two years.
The US president said the meeting would address the “border with Syria, the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds".
Syria is expected to be the central focus of the meeting and a senior US official said on Wednesday that the implementation of the October 17 joint statement will be discussed.
“Turkey is a natural ally of ours on the larger Syria issues of the Assad regime, of refugees, of chemical weapons, of the presence of the Iranians and such,” he said.
The October 17 statement called for a ceasefire and withdrawal by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) over a period of five days from a 32-kilometre deep zone in north-east Syria.
It also called for Turkish co-operation in the fight against ISIS, guarding jails and protecting minorities.
Updated: November 7, 2019 04:04 AM