U.S. national security adviser expected to hold talks with Turkey over Syria
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton and his delegation arrived in Ankara on Monday to discuss security arrangements as American troops prepare to withdraw from Syria.
Talks between U.S. and Turkish officials scheduled for Tuesday are expected to focus on the coordination of regional security following the pullout from Syria, the roadmap for Syria's Manbij, and the fight against ISIL and other terror groups, the Anadolu Agency reported.
The sale of U.S. Patriot air defense systems and extradition of Fethullah Gulen, U.S.-based preacher, are among the topics as well.
Monday's visit comes a day after Bolton said the U.S. will not withdraw troops from Syria unless the Turkish government guarantees it won't attack Kurdish fighters.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar responded on Monday, saying that Turkey's fight isn't against Kurds but against the People's Protection Units (YPG) and IS group.
Ankara sees the YPG as the Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey. However, the United States has supported the YPG to combat the IS in Syria.
The U.S. delegation is due to leave on Tuesday.
Erdogan: U.S. pullout from Syria must be planned carefully
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Monday that the U.S. withdrawal from Syria must be planned carefully and with the right partners, saying Turkey was the only country "with the power and commitment to perform that task."
In an op-ed article for the New York Times published a day before he was due to meet Bolton, Erdogan said Turkey was committed to defeating ISIL and "other terrorist groups" in Syria.
On Sunday, Bolton added a new condition to the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, saying Turkey must agree to protect the U.S. Kurdish allies, who are seen as enemies by Ankara.
In recent days, Trump administration officials have applied the brakes, making clear the withdrawal will not happen quickly. But the White House sought to make the case on Monday that Trump had not changed his position on the move.
ISIL has been ousted from large areas of territory it once controlled in Syria. But Trump's announcement of a U.S. pullout left many questions open, including whether Kurdish fighters who had been operating in northern Syria alongside U.S. forces would be attacked by Turkey.
Erdogan also warned that the international community should avoid making the same mistakes as in Iraq.
"The lesson of Iraq, where this terrorist group was born, is that premature declarations of victory and the reckless actions they tend to spur create more problems than they solve," he wrote.
"The first step is to create a stabilization force featuring fighters from all parts of Syrian society. Only a diverse body can serve all Syrian citizens and bring law and order to various parts of the country."