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VP Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meet with Erdogan to discuss Turkish invasion of Syria

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U.S. Vice President Mike Pence meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, on Thursday. Photo courtesy D. Myles Cullen/White House/Pool

Oct. 17 (UPI) — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Turkey Thursday hoping to persuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stop his military’s deadly offensive in Syria.

Erdogan’s forces began Operation Peace Spring a week ago in northeast Syria, to clear border territories of Kurdish fighters so Ankara can send back Syrian refugees who fled to Turkey.

Pence met with Erdogan for nearly 90 minutes Thursday in a bilateral meeting that was only scheduled for 10 minutes. It was followed by an expanded bilateral session.

“Our mission set is to see if we can get a cease-fire, see if we can get this brokered,” Pompeo said Wednesday before leaving for Ankara.

Erdogan has rejected calls for a cease-fire and initially said he would only deal diplomatically with U.S. President Donald Trump. Late Wednesday, he relented and said he’d meet with the U.S. delegation.

In posting photos online of his arrival in Turkey, Pompeo called Thursday’s discussions “critical.” Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that the Turkish incursion is “not our problem.”

“I am the only person who can fight for the safety of our troops & bring them home from the ridiculous and costly endless wars, and be scorned[?]” Trump asked Thursday. “Democrats always liked that position, until I took it. Democrats always liked walls, until I built them. Do you see what’s happening here?”

The House overwhelmingly passed a resolution Wednesday condemning Trump‘s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. The resolution passed with bipartisan support, including backing from Trump supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham.

“I don’t agree with his construct that Turkey’s invasion of Syria is of no concern,” the South Carolina senator said.

BBC News reported Thursday that Trump urged Erdogan, in a letter dated Oct. 9, against the military offensive in Syria.

“You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people” the letter said. “And I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will.

“History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”

The report said Erdogan “thoroughly rejected” the letter and “put it in the [trash] bin.”





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