White House: Trump, Erdogan seeking 'negotiated solution' on Syria

21.01.2019

U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to continue seeking a negotiated solution in north-eastern Syria in a phone call on Sunday, the White House said.

"The two leaders agreed to continue to pursue a negotiated solution for north-east Syria that achieves our respective security concerns," the White House said in a statement.

Erdogan also offered his condolences for the Americans killed in an Islamic State-claimed suicide bombing in Manbij, Syria last week.

"President Trump underscored the importance of defeating terrorist elements that remain in Syria. They also discussed their mutual interest in expanding the trade relationship between the United States and Turkey," the statement said.

This is the second phone call this week between the two leaders, which comes after Trump surprised the world when he announced the withdrawal of some 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria.

The widely criticised decision has imperilled U.S.-allied People's Protection Units (YPG) forces in Syria, which have been fighting the Islamic State, but have been threatened by a Turkish offensive.

The Kurdish-led YPG is considered by Turkey to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is waging an insurgency within the country. Ankara threatened to enter the YPG-held northern Syrian town of Manbij in December.

Turkey halted its operation into Manbij following the U.S. withdrawal decision but has since been reinforcing its military posts along the Syrian border. Washington's withdrawal plans remain unclear. The U.S. military has said it has started to pull forces from Syria but has not provided a timeline.    (dpa)

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