News ID: 237060
Published: 0319 GMT January 08, 2019

Erdogan rebukes Bolton over Kurdish militia comments

Erdogan rebukes Bolton over Kurdish militia comments

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rebuked US national security adviser on Tuesday for demanding that Turkey does not harm Kurdish fighters in Syria, accusing him of complicating President Donald Trump's plan to withdraw US troops.

Erdogan said John Bolton, who met Turkish officials in Ankara on Tuesday but left Turkey without holding expected talks with the president, had "made a serious mistake" in setting conditions for Turkey's military role after the US pullout, Reuters reported.

Trump said last month he was bringing home the some 2,000 US troops in Syria, claiming they had succeeded in their mission to defeat Daesh and that Turkey would take over the final stages of the military campaign.

His abrupt move sparked concern among officials in Washington and allies abroad and prompted defense secretary Jim Mattis to resign. It also alarmed the Kurdish YPG militia which has been Washington's main ally in Syria, but is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara.

Before arriving in Turkey, Bolton had said that Turkey must coordinate military action with the United States and that no US withdrawal would take place until Turkey guaranteed the Kurdish militants would be safe.

However, Erdogan said Turkey would confront the YPG in the same way that it will take on Daesh. "If they are terrorists, we will do what is necessary no matter where they come from," he told a members of his AK Party in Parliament.

"Bolton has made a serious mistake and whoever thinks like this has also made a mistake. It is not possible for us to make compromises on this point."

Turkey had reached a clear understanding with Trump over the withdrawal plans, but "different voices have started emerging from different segments of the administration," Erdogan said.

A senior Turkish official said Bolton had asked to see Erdogan, and that his earlier remarks may have been a factor in the meeting not going ahead. Erdogan later told reporters there was no need for him to meet Bolton.




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