Erdogan, Trump discuss closer cooperation on terrorism

Baku, February 8 AZERTAC

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan late Tuesday told U.S. President Donald Trump that Washington should cease its support for the terrorist PKK's Syrian affiliate the PYD/YPG, according to presidential sources.

According to Anadolu Agency, "President Erdogan said that Turkey expects the new U.S. administration to stand by Turkey in the fight against FETO” or the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, the group blamed for last July’s defeated coup.

The PKK is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S., and EU. More than 1,200 people, including security force personnel and civilians, have lost their lives since the PKK resumed its decades-old armed campaign in July 2015.

While Turkey considers the PYD a terrorist group, the Obama administration described the PYD as a "reliable partner" in the fight against Daesh in Syria.

During the 45-minute phone call -- their first since Trump took office last month -- both leaders expressed commitment to the Turkish-U.S. alliance and close partnership, especially on counter-terrorism efforts.

"President Trump said the U.S. wants to further strengthen bilateral relations and engage in closer cooperation with Turkey on regional issues," the source said.

Congratulating Trump on his election victory, Erdogan highlighted issues such as establishing a safe zone in northern Syria, the refugee crisis, and counter-terrorism efforts.

Though Erdogan has long favored a safe zone, the idea has made little headway with the powers engaged in Syria. But last month Trump told ABC news that he "will absolutely do safe zones in Syria."

Erdogan and Trump also agreed to act together on the Daesh-held Syrian cities of Al-Bab and Raqqa, the latter the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital. Wednesday marks day 169 of the Turkish-led Operation Euphrates Shield to repel Daesh terrorists in northern Syria.

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