US State Department ‘stands by’ White House readout on Erdoğan-Trump talk
WASHINGTON – Anadolu Agency
The U.S. State Department has said they “stand by the readout” of the phone conversation held between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 24 issued by the White House, which was later refuted by Turkish officials.
“We stand by the readout. We stand by the President’s assertion of cautioning Turkey about the escalation of tensions in the Afrin area,” State Departmenty Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters in a press briefing on Jan. 25.
“I think our – the call readout that was provided by the White House was very specific, it was very detailed, and it was firm. And I think it expressed both the President and the Secretary’s extreme concern about the situation in northwestern Syria,” she added.
Nauert’s remarks came after Turkish officials refuted the White House statement on the conversation between Erdoğan and Trump.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Jan. 25 that he White House statement “might have been prepared in advance.”
“I think the statement was prepared by the United Sates before the telephone conversation took place,” Çavuşoğlu said.“Hence, it did not fully reflect the truth.”
Turkish sources said earlier that the two leaders only exchanged views on Turkey’s ongoing military operation in Syria.
“President Trump did not share any ‘concerns [about] escalating violence’ with regard to the ongoing military operation in Afrin. The two leaders’ discussion of ‘Operation Olive Branch’ was limited to an exchange of views,” they added.
During the conversation, Trump discussed restricting the operation in Afrin to a certain time limit and avoiding any close combat in Manbij, due to the presence of U.S. soldiers in the region, the sources added.
Erdoğan reiterated that the People’s Protection Units (YPG) must withdraw to the East of the Euphrates River and pledged the protection of Manbij by the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) against future threats by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) following the withdrawal.
The Turkish sources also stressed that Trump did not use the words “destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey.”