Syria con­flict: Pom­peo 'op­ti­mistic' on deal to pro­tect Kurds

Daily Messenger - - International -

WASH­ING­TON: US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo says he is op­ti­mistic an agree­ment can be reached with Tur­key to pro­tect Kur­dish fight­ers in Syria after the US leaves.

He was speak­ing in the United Arab Emi­rates fol­low­ing a phone call with his Turk­ish coun­ter­part.

US forces in north­ern Syria have fought along­side a Kur­dish mili­tia against Is­lamic State (IS) mil­i­tants. Tur­key, how­ever, re­gards the Peo­ple's Pro­tec­tion Units (YPG) as a ter­ror­ist group and has vowed to crush it.

Mr Pom­peo is tour­ing the Mid­dle East to try to re­as­sure al­lies fol­low­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's abrupt an­nounce­ment last month that US forces would with­draw from Syria.

Talk­ing to re­porters in Abu Dhabi, Mr Pom­peo said the US recog­nised "the Turk­ish peo­ple's right and [Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip] Er­do­gan's right to de­fend their coun­try from ter­ror­ists". "We also know that those fight­ing along­side us for all this time de­serve to be pro­tected as well," he said.

Mr Pom­peo said he had spo­ken to Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Mev­lut Cavu­soglu, adding: "Many de­tails ( are) still to be worked out but I'm op­ti­mistic that we can achieve a good out­come."

Last week, Pres­i­dent Er­do­gan an­grily re­jected calls by US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser John Bolton for the Kur­dish fight­ers to be pro­tected. He said such state­ments were "un­ac­cept­able".

Mr Er­do­gan told MPs from his gov­ern­ing Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party that the US did not know who the var­i­ous Kur­dish groups were, adding: "If the US eval­u­ates them as 'Kur­dish brothers' then they are in a se­ri­ous delu­sion."

Mr Bolton was on a visit to Ankara to seek guar­an­tees over the Kur­dish fight­ers, but Pres­i­dent Er­do­gan de­clined to meet him.

Tur­key con­sid­ers the YPG an ex­ten­sion of the banned Kur­dis­tanWork­ers' Party (PKK), which has fought for Kur­dish au­ton­omy in Tur­key for three decades. The YPG de­nies any di­rect or­gan­i­sa­tional links to the PKK.

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