The Turkish presidency on Sunday announced that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US counterpart Donald Trump agreed during a phone call to hold talks next month in Washington to discuss creating a “safe zone” in northern Syria. The presidency added that the visit would take place after an invitation from Trump.
Erdogan, who had earlier raised the temperature by warning that Ankara could launch a cross-border offensive, told Trump of his “frustration over the US military and security bureaucracy’s failure to implement the deal” agreed in August to establish a buffer zone on the Turkish border.
Turkish state media also reported on military reinforcements sent to the border with Syria after Erdogan’s comments.
A Trump-Erdogan meeting on Syria last month was expected on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, but it did not take place.
Moreover, the United States has sought to stop Turkish operations against a US-backed Syrian Kurdish militia which Turkey views as a “terrorist” group.
After the US-Turkey talks ended with the August agreement, Turkish and American forces held joint ground and air patrols in northern Syria.
However, Turkey accused the US of stalling over the establishment of the “safe zone”.
Erdogan told Trump during the phone call that “safe zone” would create the “necessary conditions” for Syrian refugees to return to Syria.
With some Western capitals concerned over any unilateral Turkish operation’s impact on the fight against IS jihadists, Erdogan insisted Turkey would take the “necessary precautions” to ensure there was no extremist resurgence in the region.
Turkey twice launched military operations against IS in 2016 and the YPG in 2018, supporting Syrian rebels to take territory in northern Syria.
(With inputs from PTI)