Pompeo working toward deal on Syria with Turkey
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Despite Turkey’s vows to the contrary, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Saturday he was confident the two nations can agree on a way to protect U.S.allied Kurdish rebels in Syria after American troops withdraw from the country.
After speaking to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Pompeo said an agreement was a work in progress but can be achieved in a way that allows the Turks to defend their country while leaving alone Kurds who do not pose a threat.
The top U.S. diplomat said he was “optimistic” that Kurds who fought alongside U.S. forces against the Islamic State group in Syria are not threatened by pledges from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch military operations against what he terms Kurdish “terrorists.”
“We recognize the Turkish people’s right and President Erdogan’s right to defend their country from terrorists and we also know that those who aren’t terrorists, those who were fighting alongside us all this time, deserve to be protected and we are confident that we can achieve an outcome that achieves both of those: protect the Turks from legitimate terror threats and prevent any substantial risks to folks who don’t present terror risks to Turkey,” Pompeo told reporters.
Turkey has rejected any role for Kurdish fighters in restoring peace.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, and Vice Adm. James Malloy visit Manama, Bahrain, Friday as part of Pompeo’s tour of Middle Eastern countries.