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AFP
December 26, 2018

Erdogan invites Trump to visit Turkey: White House

World

AFP
December 26, 2018

WASHINGTON: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has invited his American counterpart Donald Trump to visit Turkey in 2019, the White House said on Monday.

"President Erdogan invited President Trump to visit Turkey in 2019. While nothing definite is being planned, the President is open to a potential meeting in the future," a White House spokesperson said.

The invitation comes just days after Trump made the controversial decision to withdraw American troops from Syria, where they have been deployed to assist in the international war against the Islamic State jihadist group.

Turkey was a rare ally that lauded Trump's decision on Syria, a country where it will now have a freer rein to target Kurdish fighters who were armed and trained by the US and played a major role in the war against IS but are deemed terrorists by Ankara.

Turkey has said an offensive targeting the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia and IS group will be launched in the coming months, and has deployed troops to the Syrian border.

Turkey warns France against supporting Kurd militia: Turkey on Tuesday warned France against protecting a US-backed Kurdish militia in Syria and said Ankara's military power was enough to defeat the Islamic State after US troops withdraw. Washington's decision to pull out all 2,000 ground forces from Syria has stunned most allies, including France, but was greeted with approval by Turkey.

Ankara believes its forces supporting Syrian opposition fighters will now have a freer rein to target Kurdish fighters from the US-backed People's Protection Units (YPG). "If France is staying to contribute to Syria's future, great, but if they are doing this to protect the (militia), this will bring no benefit to anyone," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, according to Hurriyet daily.

Turkey views the YPG militia as a sister "terrorist" organisation of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. The PKK is blacklisted as a terror group by Ankara, the US and the European Union. President Donald Trump last week ordered the withdrawal of US ground forces deployed in Syria to provide training to the YPG under the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance battling the Islamic State. Cavusoglu told Turkish media during a briefing that Ankara has "the power to neutralise (IS) alone" amid fears that a US pull-out will hurt the fight against Islamic State.

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