US Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Turkey on Wednesday as scheduled, despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s refusal to meet him, the White House confirmed.
“The vice president will go to Turkey today”, Pence spokeswoman Katie Waldman told AFP when asked about a possible change in his program.
The White House announced Tuesday that Pence will meet Erdogan on Thursday to seek a “direct ceasefire” in Northern Syria.
The Turkish presidency confirmed Wednesday that the Turkish president will meet Thursday with US Vice President Mike Pence, who went to Ankara on Wednesday in an effort to reach a ceasefire in northern Syria.
Erdogan told Sky News that Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would only meet their Turkish counterparts, but Turkish presidential communications director Fakhruddin Altun returned and confirmed on Twitter that the Turkish president “plans to meet with the US delegation led by Vice President” Pence.
Erdogan told Sky News he would only meet US President Donald Trump if he visited Ankara.
Altun posted on Twitter a short video in which Erdogan confirmed to Turkish media that he would meet Pence and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for Ankara.
The aim of Trump’s mission is to try to persuade Ankara to declare a ceasefire in northern Syria.
On October 9, Turkey, backed by pro-Syrian factions, launched Operation Spring of Peace against the formerly Western-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) for their key role in fighting ISIS.
Erdogan ruled out any talks with Syrian Kurdish forces and urged them to lay down their arms and withdraw from their positions on the Turkish border.
US President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Kurds Turkey has been attacking in northern Syria since US troops withdrew from the region are “no angels”.
Trump said “the Kurds are well protected”, while the Republican president faces accusations in the United States and from his foreign allies of “abandoning” the Kurds.
“Basically they are not angels”, he said before Vice President Mike Pence left for Turkey on Wednesday night to meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.