US delegation arrives in Turkey to discuss Syria

Published 22.07.2019 00:02

A U.S. delegation led by U.S. Special Representative on Syria James Jeffrey is expected to arrive in Ankara today for a working group meeting on Syria.

The groups are expected to discuss the situation east of the Euphrates, the presence of PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG) in the region and Turkey's exclusion from the F-35 program.

Turkey had long signaled a possible offensive in areas held by the YPG east of the Euphrates. However, last December the government decided to postpone the operation for a while after U.S. President Donald Trump decided that Washington, the main backer of the terrorist group, would withdraw its troops from Syria.

The withdrawal decision was quickly interpreted as an intention to halt U.S. support for the YPG, which Turkey sees as a terrorist organization. Yet, in the face of mounting hints that the country will maintain its support to the terrorist organization and contradictory statements from officials on the pullout process, officials from Ankara and Washington have been discussing setting up a 32-km deep safe zone to ease Turkey's security concerns. However, no actions were taken also on this issue.

Following a visit by former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Ankara in February 2018, Turkey and the U.S. established a mechanism to address separate issues in working groups, including stabilization of the northern Syrian city of Manbij and to prevent clashes between Turkish and U.S. troops.

The first working group was held on March 8, 2018, in which the main principles of potential cooperation between Turkey and the U.S. were termed "constructive."

It is also reported that Jeffrey has requested an appointment to meet with Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın. If the schedule can be arranged, Jeffrey is expected to meet with Kalın.

Moreover, it is expected that the U.S. delegation will visit the Ministry of National Defense.

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