US “NO” to the Turks: “We are not leaving our bases in Syria”

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WASHINGTON D.C., The United States of America – US-Turkish relations and developments in northern Syria, on the occasion of yesterday’s telephone conversations  between President Donald Trump and Tayyip Erdogan, dominated the briefing of the State Department correspondents by spokeswoman Heather Nawert. Yesterday, as announced by the White House spokeswoman, Trump and Erdogan spoke “to confirm the importance of strong US-Turkey relations as allies in NATO and strategic partners and to exchange views on regional developments.”

According to the White House spokeswoman, the two leaders “committed themselves to continue efforts to strengthen cooperation on common strategic challenges and address the concerns of both countries that affect their bilateral relations”.

Information to the State Department began with questions as to whether the US Foreign Ministry had asked the Justice Ministry to stop prosecuting Erdogan’s bodyguards for attacks on protesters during the visit of the Turkish President in May 2017.

The charges against them were withdrawn on February 14th, one day before the Tillerson-Erdogan meeting in Ankara. “I can tell you that the State Department did not have a role in the decision to drop charges. It emerged universally from the Ministry of Justice,” said Heather Nauer.

The spokeswoman admitted that Rex Tillerson was aware of the decision of the Justice Ministry before meeting with Erdogan, but he described the timing as “symptomatic”. “Mr. Tillerson noted that the timing was timely, but he also noted that it was a good example of having independent justice in our country, and that these are decisions of the Ministry of Justice.”

Invited to comment on a report yesterday that led Mr Tillerson to show the withdrawal of the accusations as an example that relations between the US and Turkey could be improved, Mrs. Nawert replied by saying that they “told me to say that the answer is definitely not”.

Concerning the Trump-Erdogan talk, Mrs. Nawert referred to the White House for further clarification, and she was also asked about the situation in Syria and the working group announced during the Tillerson visit to Ankara.

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“We had the first meeting of this mechanism in Washington two weeks ago. About 24 Turkish officials came to the US and met with about 24 State Department officials. It was done here at the State Department, “said Mrs. Nawert, saying there are talks between US and Turkish officials.

He spoke at the weekend meeting of former Secretary of State John Salvian with Mevlout Tsavsoglu and Trump-Erdogan. “These talks are clearly very important. As allies in NATO with enough to happen in Syria, we have enough to discuss with the Turkish government,” the spokewosman said, avoiding more information on when a new convocation of the mechanism is expected.

Regarding the Turkish threats of knocking out Manbij in northern Syria, she said the US has made it clear to the Turkish government that they will continue to work in the area.

“We have made very clear our concerns in the Turkish government that we have the right to defend the US and its coalition partners on the ground in the region. We have encouraged Turkey to scramble altogether and continue talks with the government.”

Responding to a question of whether the US intends to withdraw their forces, Mrs. Nawert has referred to the Pentagon for details, she replied. “We have no intention of leaving.”

Translated from Crash Magazine Online.

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