Syria among top agenda items in Erdogan-Trump meeting


Turkey’s counterterror operation in northern Syria, which determines the recent direction of bilateral relations, is expected to be a top agenda item Wednesday in a meeting between the presidents of Turkey and the U.S.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Donald Trump will discuss the implementation of an agreement reached Oct.17 between two countries to pause a Turkish military operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from a planned safe zone, as well as U.S. relations with YPG/PKK terror organization.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northern Syria and create a safe zone along the border, thereby paving the way for the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.

Ankara agreed with Washington on Oct. 17 to pause its operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the planned safe zone.

Turkey has complained that the YPG/PKK terrorists — sometimes allies of the U.S., ostensibly to fight ISIS/Daesh — did not leave the area, and continue to launch attacks.

Erdogan will pay a two-day working visit to the U.S. at the invitation of his American counterpart starting Tuesday.

Erdogan would also ask Trump about the invitation of YPG/PKK ringleader Ferhat Abdi Sahin, codenamed Mazlum Koban, to Washington.

In late October, U.S. senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen asked the State Department to issue Sahin a visa to visit Washington.

Trump had previously said on Twitter that he anticipated a meeting with Sahin, a move criticized by Turkish officials.

Turkey views Sahin as a terrorist chieftain linked to the PKK group whose Syrian branch is the YPG/PKK.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union — has been responsible for deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.

Turkish and American leaders are expected to talk about the F-35 fighter jets, which Turkey was removed from the program in July after buying Russian air missile system S-400.

The trade volume target of $100 billion and anti-Turkey agenda at the U.S. Congress are among other topics that would be discussed.

U.S. congress passed a resolution on so called 1915 events and a bill that foresee implementation of sanctions against Turkey after the Operation peace Spring.

Turkey’s position on the events of 1915 is that the deaths of Armenians in eastern Anatolia took place when some sided with invading Russians and revolted against Ottoman forces. A subsequent relocation of Armenians resulted in numerous casualties.

Turkey objects to the presentation of the incidents as “genocide” but describes 1915 events as a tragedy in which both sides suffered casualties.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of a joint commission of historians from Turkey and Armenia plus international experts to examine the issue.

*Writing by Beyza Binnur Donmez

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