Turkey wants to hold Syria meeting after Putin-Trump summit
Turkey wants to organize a small meeting on Syria after a highly anticipated summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, calling on all relevant international actors to exert efforts to create conditions to hold healthy polls in the war-torn country.
“Trump and Putin will meet in Helsinki on Monday [July 16]. It’s a very, very important meeting. We will follow what kind of agreements and disagreements will come out of this meeting. I am planning to hold a phone conversation with Mr. Putin on Saturday [July 14] and will suggest to him to hold a small meeting in Turkey,” Erdoğan told reporters travelling with him on his return from Brussels where he attended a NATO summit on July 13.
“It would be good if he accepts such a meeting with us after Helsinki,” Erdoğan said, adding “I am planning to invite one or two countries to such an organization. I think we could further stabilize the region.”
Trump and Putin will meet on July 16 in the Finnish capital for the first time since the former took office in January 2017. One of the most important issues the two presidents will discuss will be Syria, Trump said at a press conference in Brussels on July 12.
Erdoğan held bilateral meetings with a number of leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and a brief talk with Trump on the margins of the NATO Summit on July 11 and 12.
He said he discussed the recent developments in Syria with all the leaders and called for solidarity in resolving these matters. “The objective is to hold healthy elections in Syria as soon as possible. Coalition forces [led by the U.S.] Turkey, Russia and Iran should work altogether to take the Syrian people to the polls,” he said.
A process launched by Turkey, Russia and Iran is aiming to accelerate political settlement to the Syrian issue by first writing the new constitution and then going to the polls. A meeting to this end had taken place in Geneva in June with the participation of U.N. representatives and officials from the Syrian regime and opposition groups.
No terror corridor in northern Syria
Erdoğan’s talks with both Macron and Merkel also focused on Turkey’s ongoing fight against the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a group designated as a terror organization by Ankara.
“We never had problems with Kurds. Our problem is with terrorists. We can’t tolerate a terror corridor forming in northern Syria. There are not only Kurds living there but Arabs, too” he said, adding that Turkey’s military operations in that region destroyed the YPG’s plans to stretch their presence toward the Mediterranean.
“Our expectation from France is to be consistent and determined in the fight against terror. We have made clear that protecting organizations like the YPG and the PYD [Democratic Union Party] is unacceptable,” he said.
The president said he could visit Germany in August.
Syria deal with US works well
When asked about his conversation with Trump, Erdoğan said the ongoing deal with the U.S. over the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij and congressional efforts to stop the delivery of F-35s to Turkey were the top issues.
“The Manbij deal is advancing as planned. But our main objective is to have the U.S. cut all its relations with the YPG, which is not there yet,” Erdoğan stressed.
The deal stipulates the withdrawal of all YPG elements from Manbij to the east of Euphrates River and the establishment of a local administration composed by local Arabs until Sept. 5.
On the F-35 fighter jets, Erdoğan said Turkey has already paid $800 million and will make an additional $100 million payment to the U.S. in the coming days as part of a deal to procure the aircrafts from the U.S. “Mr. Trump told me that this agreement will fully be implemented. He said ‘I gave all the necessary instructions.’ The White House sent a letter to Congress and underlined that it was against sanctions [on Turkey],” the president stated.
A clause added to a bill to the Pentagon’s budget seeks sanctioning the delivery of F-35s to Turkey due to the detention of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey.
Key role for Turkey in Iraq mission
On the content of the NATO Summit, Erdoğan said Turkey emphasized on the need for a coherent and joint fight against terrorism.
He also reiterated that NATO has decided to launch a comprehensive training mission for Iraqi security institutions in Iraq. “The fact that Turkey will assume the position of the deputy commander of this training mission is a concrete reflection of Turkey’s commitment to NATO as well as Iraq’s stability and security,” he said.