Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not have John Bolton on his list of meetings, but by not meeting the US national security adviser, Erdogan sent a strong message to Washington.
US National Security Advisor John Bolton was in Turkey on Tuesday but could not meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan said Bolton’s counterpart is Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, with whom Bolton had a meeting along with other Turkish officials, media reports said.
Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan slammed Bolton’s recent comments that Turkey “targets Kurds” in Syria.
“It is impossible to accept the message given by Mr. Bolton in Israel,” Erdogan told governing Justice and Development [AK] Party’s parliamentary group.
“Claims that Turkey targets Kurds in Syria is dishonourable, ugly, vulgar and defaming,” Erdogan said.
Bolton’s claims are “irrational”
On Sunday, Bolton had said the US will not withdraw troops from northeastern Syria until the Turkish government guarantees it won’t attack “Kurdish fighters,” referring to YPG/PKK terrorist group.
Erdogan’s comments came shortly after Bolton held more than two hours of talks in the Turkish capital Ankara focusing on the surprise US decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.
Kalin on Sunday also dubbed Bolton’s claims as “irrational,” as the country is fighting Daesh and PKK/PYD/YPG terrorists.
Erdogan said Turkey is determined to eliminate any “terror corridor” in northern Syria, adding that Turkey made no distinction between terrorist groups.
“For Turkey, there is no difference between PKK, YPG, PYD or Daesh,” the president said.
He said Turkey’s preparations to eradicate Daesh in Syria’s north “together with other terrorist organisations are under way.”
“Very soon we will act to neutralise terrorist groups in Syria.
And we will take out other terror groups that might try to prevent us from doing this,” Erdogan added.
He said Turkey has always respected his allies, adding that his country expects the same attitude from its allies.
In its 30-year terrorist campaign, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives. The PKK/YPG is its Syrian branch.
Turkey has said it is planning a counter-terrorist operation into Syria targeting the PKK/YPG, following two successful operations since 2016.
TRT World’s Andrew Hopkins has more from the capital Ankara.
Earlier, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council Garrett Marquis said in a statement said that Bolton and Kalin had a productive meeting.
Marquis added that the two sides had identified further issues for dialogue and that the US looks forward to ongoing military-to-military consultations.
US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and James Jeffrey, the US special representative for Syria and the special envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition, also attended the meeting that lasted a little over two hours.