ANKARA (Reuters) – Preparations by Turkey and the US on a secure zone for refugees in northeastern Syria are on schedule, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying on Friday after beforehand accusing Washington of stalling.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 74th session of the United Nations Basic Meeting at U.N. headquarters in New York Metropolis, New York, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
The 2 NATO allies began joint land and air patrols alongside a part of Syria’s border with Turkey. Ankara needs Washington to clear the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia from a 480-km-long (300-mile-long) border space, and Erdogan warned that Turkey would act unilaterally if the group was not eliminated.
U.S. assist for the YPG, a key U.S. ally towards Islamic State in Syria, has angered Turkey. Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group.
Talking to reporters on his return flight from the United Nations Basic Meeting in New York, Erdogan was quoted by broadcaster NTV as saying, “Scheduled efforts are underneath means. Because the schedule is shifting alongside, all our preparations alongside the border are additionally full.”
“Upon returning (to Turkey), we’ll maintain evaluations … on what kind of steps to take and implement them … as a result of Turkey just isn’t a rustic that may be stalled,” he mentioned.
At a briefing on the sidelines of the U.N. Basic Meeting, U.S. Particular envoy to Syria James Jeffrey instructed reporters that Washington was shifting “faithfully and as quickly” as doable, however warned towards unilateral motion within the area.
“We’ve made it clear to Turkey at each stage that any unilateral operation just isn’t going to result in an enchancment in anybody’s safety,” Jeffrey mentioned. “The Turks have an choice in fact to behave militarily.”
“We labored up a secure zone proposal with all people concerned, that has the YPG pulling again its forces and its heavy weapons varied distances relying on the situation and the type of exercise,” Jeffrey mentioned, including that the YPG would additionally do away with its fortifications in sure areas.
The YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces has mentioned it’s going to pull again as much as 14 km (eight.7 miles) in some areas, however Turkey says the US agreed that the secure zone ought to prolong 30 km (18.64 miles) into Syria. Erdogan has mentioned as much as 2 million Syrian refugees might return to that space.
In an interview with Reuters previous to his journey, Erdogan mentioned that whereas on the United Nations he would focus on with U.S. President Donald Trump the secure zone and the potential for shopping for U.S. Patriot protection programs.
The 2 leaders as a substitute held a phone name final week and met at a reception in New York on Wednesday, Erdogan mentioned on Friday, however didn’t elaborate, in keeping with NTV.
DEALS, NOT SANCTIONS
Ties between Ankara and Washington have been strained over a number of points, together with conflicting insurance policies in Syria and the specter of doable U.S. sanctions over Turkey’s choice to purchase Russian S-400 missile protection programs.
Washington has expelled Turkey from its F-35 jet program over the deal and has not dominated out sanctions, regardless of Trump’s sympathetic feedback.
On Friday, Erdogan mentioned he had proposed to Trump that Turkey purchase U.S. Patriot protection programs at phrases just like Turkey’s deal for the S-400 programs.
“We can’t say the F-35 concern is absolutely resolved but, however I made my proposal to them,” Erdogan mentioned.
“I mentioned to Mr Trump, ‘We will purchase Patriots from you alongside the S-400s,’ and he mentioned, ‘In the event you’re critical, let’s work on this.’ I made a critical provide,” he was quoted as saying.
Erdogan additionally mentioned it was not possible for Turkey to cease its oil and pure gasoline procurement from Iran regardless of the specter of U.S. sanctions and that commerce with Iran would proceed. He mentioned Turkey didn’t concern U.S. sanctions.
Turkish markets have been watching Erdogan’s journey carefully for any indicators assembly between the NATO allies might dispel the specter of U.S. sanctions over the S-400 deal.
On Tuesday, CNN Turk reported that the U.S. ambassador to Ankara not too long ago gave a presentation on the presidential palace a couple of doable free-trade accord that would come with Turkey’s participation within the F-35 program in addition to the Patriot buy.
Nonetheless, requested concerning the doable accord, Erdogan mentioned on Friday that the 2 nations had not mentioned the main points of such an settlement, and he added that this was a problem between the Turkish and U.S. commerce ministries.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Further reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in New York; Enhancing by Rosalba O’Brien, Cynthia Osterman and Sandra Maler