Turkey Hails Pompeo Comments Over Defense Against 'Terrorists'

Turkish US foreign ministers discuss Syria on phone

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held a phone call with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Last month, Trump announced that he wanted U.S. troops out of Syria - a decision that resulted in the resignations of Defense Secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS.

Trump also appeared to propose a 20 mile safe zone on the Turkey-Syria border so as to prevent clashes between the Turkish military and Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

The pullout was reportedly sparked after a phone conversation between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"We also know that those who aren't terrorists, those who were fighting alongside of us for all this time deserve to be protected as well", Pompeo said. "We are confident we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those".

He said the United States envoy for Syria, Jim Jeffrey, had travelled to northeast Syria this week and would soon go to Ankara for talks, including on moving forward a UN-led political process to end the eight-year long conflict in Syria.

"The withdrawal is based on operational conditions on the ground, including conversation with our allies and partners, and is not be subject to an arbitrary timeline", he said.

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Turkey's foreign minister and his US counterpart spoke over the phone, Turkish diplomatic sources announced on Saturday. National Security Advisor John Bolton conditioned the exit on guarantees from Turkey not to attack the group - angering Ankara.

US Colonel Sean Ryan, a coalition spokesman, said the coalition "has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria".

Donald Trump has warned Turkey of economic devastation if it attacks Kurdish forces in the wake of the United States troop pullout from Syria, while also urging the Kurds not to "provoke" Ankara.

Kurds and Christians in the northeast region "have tried to put together this pluralistic model which is based on secularism", he told NPR.

"We stand to lose our way of life, we also stand to lose our property and our livelihood", said Ishak. "We will be like second-class citizens at best, if we survive as Syriac Christians and Kurds".

"We find correct his statement about the removal of the elements that concern Turkey", Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a speech in the southern Turkish province of Antalya.

In Riyadh, the secretary of state is expected to discuss Iran and the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, US media report, as well as seeking an update on the investigation into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He described a "big and growing" coalition to exert pressure on Iran.

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