WASHINGTON (Rahnuma): U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a telephone conversation Saturday with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Syria issue, according to a statement issued by the State Department.
Pompeo and his Turkish counterpart agreed on the importance of continuing U.S.-Turkish consultations as part of the deliberate and coordinated withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, the statement said.
Pompeo reiterated to Cavusoglu the U.S. commitment to addressing Turkish security concerns along the Turkey-Syria border.
At the same time, he emphasized the importance that the United State places on the protection of forces that worked with the United States in defeating the Islamic State (IS), referring to the Kurdish militia, known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG).
The top U.S. diplomat is on an eight-day trip to the Middle East amid rising uncertainty and complexity in the region following the White House’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
Trump’s announcement of pulling the 2,000 troops out of Syria has raised expectations that Turkey could launch a military operation targeting the YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist group with links to Kurdish separatists in Turkey.
Cavusoglu said in an interview on Thursday that Turkey would conduct the planned military operation to thwart the threat in northern Syria, even if the United States delays the withdrawal.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said Friday that the military environment in northern Syria was “very complex,” warning that Turkey should not take any military action that is not fully coordinated through the military to military channels with the United States.
Trump said on Monday that U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Syria “at a proper pace,” while at the same time continuing the fight against the IS.
Currently, there are about 2,000 U.S. troops deployed in Syria.