Trump, Erdoğan talk regional, bilateral relations in phone conversation
“Our president held a phone conversation with U.S. President Trump. Bilateral and regional topics were discussed in the conversation,” presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said in a written statement.
Both leaders agreed to continue collaboration for common strategic goals and resolve issues that negatively affect bilateral relations said Kalın in a statement later on March 22.
“The importance of strengthening relations between the two NATO allies and strategic partners was discussed,” said the spokesperson.
The two leaders last spoke on Jan. 24, days after Turkey launched its military operation into the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin, which had exacerbated friction in U.S.-Turkey ties.
The U.S.’s support to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Protection Units (YPG), within the framework of the anti-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition has long been protested by Ankara, which regards them as direct affiliates of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
Following the capture of Afrin last week, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have been voicing Turkey’s determination to pursue further military operations in Syria, including in the Manbij province on the banks of the Euphrates.
The YPG’s presence in Manbij, stationed alongside U.S. soldiers, has been strongly criticized by Ankara, which demands the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish forces from the city and the U.S.’s withdrawal of its armed support for the group.