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Turkey's Erdogan, Trump discussed US withdrawal from Syria in phone call

February 22, 2019 at 4:43 am

President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with US President Donald Trump (R) in Argentina on 1 December 2018 [Turkish Presidency/Anadolu Agency]

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Thursday to carry out the US military withdrawal from Syria in line with their mutual interests, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said.

In December, Trump confounded his own national security team with a surprise decision to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria, declaring that Islamic State had been defeated there.

Erdogan previously said that uncertainty remained over the US withdrawal from Syria, adding there was the talk of the pullout taking place in April or May.

During their phone call, Erdogan and Trump agreed that the US withdrawal from Syria should not damage the mutual goals of Ankara and Washington, Anadolu said.

READ: Trump blocks sale of F-35 jets to Turkey over increasing relations with Russia

Turkey wants to set up a safe zone with logistical support from allies and says it should be cleared of the US-backed Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara views as a terrorist organisation linked with Kurdish militants on its own soil.

Erdogan and Trump also discussed bilateral relations and the latest developments in Syria, Anadolu said, adding that the two agreed to support a political resolution to the Syria conflict.

Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey’s desire to maintain close ties with the United States in the phone call and the two leaders agreed to improve bilateral economic ties, Anadolu said.