Pence meets with Erdogan, agree to Syria border cease-fire

Watch: Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hold a press conference to announce they have secured a cease-fire agreement in Syria after meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara.

Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speak after meeting with Turkey President.

Posted by KUSI News on Thursday, October 17, 2019

After VP Pence’s announcement, President Trump spoke to reporters about the announcement. Trump was very pleased with the “incredible outcome” and said other administrations have “been trying to get this outcome for ten years.” Trump’s full remarks are below.

Trump speaks to reporters after Pence announces ceasefire in Syria

President Trump speaks after ceasefire agreement reached with Turkey. Full Story: https://bit.ly/2ptyOjL

Posted by KUSI News on Thursday, October 17, 2019

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that the U.S. and Turkey had agreed to a five-day cease-fire in northern Syria to allow for a Kurdish withdrawal from a security zone roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish border, in what appeared to be a significant embrace of Turkey’s position in the week-long conflict.

After more than four hours of negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Pence said the purpose of his high-level mission was to end the bloodshed caused by Turkey’s invasion of Syria, and remained silent on whether the agreement amounted to another abandonment of the U.S.’s former Kurdish allies in the fight against the Islamic State.

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the area.

Pence and Secretary of State Mile Pompeo lauded the deal as a significant achievement, and Trump tweeted that it was “a great day for civilization.” But the agreement essentially gives the Turks what they had sought to achieve with their military operation in the first place. After the Kurdish forces are cleared from the safe zone, Turkey has committed to a permanent cease-fire but is under no obligation to withdraw its troops.

In addition, the deal gives Turkey relief from sanctions the administration had imposed and threatened to impose since the invasion began, meaning there will be no penalty for the operation.

Kurdish forces were not party to the agreement, and it was not immediately clear whether they would comply. Before the talks, the Kurds indicated they would object to any agreement along the lines of what was announced by Pence. But Pence maintained that the U.S. had obtained “repeated assurances from them that they’ll be moving out.”

Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.

Even before Trump’s comments, Erdogan had stated on Wednesday that he would be undeterred by the sanctions. He said the fighting would end only if Kurdish fighters abandoned their weapons and retreated from positions near the Turkish border. If Pence can persuade Turkey to agree to a cease-fire, which few U.S. officials believed was likely, experts warn it will not erase the signal Trump’s action sent to American allies across the globe or the opening already being exploited by Russia in the region.

Turkish troops and Turkish-backed Syrian fighters launched their offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria a week ago, two days after Trump suddenly announced he was withdrawing the U.S. from the area.

Ankara has long argued the Kurdish fighters are nothing more than an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has waged a guerrilla campaign inside Turkey since the 1980s and which Turkey, as well as the U.S. and European Union, designate as a terrorist organization.

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Categories: National & International News, Politics