Ankara refuses from talks with Washington in favor of Moscow
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to indicate that he wouldn't meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week.
Speaking to Sky News, as Pence and Pompeo were expected to fly to Ankara, Erdogan said that he wouldn't meet with them, only U.S. President Donald Trump himself.
"I am standing tall. I will not meet with them. They will meet with their counterparts. I will speak when Trump comes," Sky News cited the Turkish leader as saying.
A Turkish reporter said soon after that, however, that Erdogan had told Turkish media earlier he would join meetings with Pompeo and Pence if and when they came to his country, and that he had simply said he wouldn't meet a lower-level U.S. delegation already in Ankara.
Earlier, Trump said that the U.S. delegation will travel to Turkey today amid ongoing Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria.
Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin invited his Turkish counterpart to pay a working visit to Russia, and Erdogan accepted the invitation. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later that the visit may take place in October.
Erdogan said today that Turkey has cleared 1,220 square kilometers of terrorists since the operation was launched.
Today. it was reported that Syrian troops have entered Raqqa, which until recently was controlled by the Kurdish paramilitary forces. According to the report, the military units have set up several checkpoints in Raqqa.
Yesterday, Syrian government forces established control over the town of Tabqa and the nearby airfield in Raqqa and also took under control several bridges through the Euphrates River and two hydroelectric power stations.
Professor at Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University Togrul İsmayil, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that at the talks between Putin and Erdogan on Syria, the U.S. topic will occupy a significant place, although for the most part it will be devoted to ensuring the territorial integrity of the Syrian state. "Our states are striving to prevent the creation of pseudo-state entities in the north of Syria, which could subsequently lead to a new critical situation," he said in the first place.
"I think that the U.S. statement of 'We left and passed on the situation to the Syrian regime and Russia to figure it out' is aimed at creating new conditions for confrontation in this region. The position of the U.S. is becoming more clear: they are playing a double game, first they give the green light and then they blame Turkey for all sins. In fact, Turkey's anti-terrorist operations will not only prevent Syria from collapsing, but also Turkey itself, "Togrul Ismail expressed confidence.
"There is still mutual understanding between Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, and this is the most important thing," the Professor at Kahramanmaraş Sütçü İmam University added.
The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov recalled the background of events in Syria. "It was with the help of Turkey, with the help of the format that Turkey was a part of - the Astana format - it was possible to solve a problem of historical importance - the liberation of the main territory, the elimination of a number of very protracted battles in enclaves, and gain what is now called a victory over ISIS (the terrorist group banned in Russia)," the expert explained.
"On the other hand, the action itself is wrong, because it is the use of force on someone else’s territory. And, apparently, principal assessments at the level of top officials are needed in order to find or a quick plan to overcome the situation, or set a schedule for how a settlement will be reached. It will be discussed," he said.
"As for the U.S., it seems to me that conducting some kind of negotiations on such delicate issues with America is unproductive. How can Erdogan openly express his concerns if this issue concerning such complex, delicate things like relations with national minorities, with Kurds, will be published in the media the next day? He can do it with Putin, because he knows that there are serious people in Moscow, who take confidential negotiations aimed at solving very difficult issues seriously," Andrei Baklanov concluded.