Mar 03 2018

U.S. offered to split Manbij security role with Turkey – Erdoğan

Answering questions from pro-government journalists on his tour in Mauritania, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the United States had offered to split the Syrian region of Manbij with Turkey, according to opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet.

“When it came to it, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said ‘let’s get them out. Let the security of Manbij be ours in half and yours in half,” Erdoğan said.

“I responded ‘May it neither be ours nor yours! Manbij must be for the true residents.’ If what the Americans are talking about is with the aim of allowing the original residents to resettle in the Arab areas and to together ensure the security of Manbij, of course this can be done.”

The fight against the Gülen movement had been unaffected by the Afrin operation, Erdoğan said.

“There are those sentenced to life, there are those sentenced to 20, 30 or 15 years. We cannot give a timeframe (for how long it will take) but we are determinedly continuing the struggle,” he said.

“We will continue to chase them out.”

In response to a further question on the purchase of an S-400 missile defence system from Russia, Erdoğan responded that there was no turning back.

“That deal has now been done as we have reached an agreement with the Russians,” he said. “NATO member Greece also bought S-300s from Russia – was it sanctioned for it?”

Erdoğan also related a call with Emmanuel Macron on the issue of energy reserves near Cyprus.

“He wanted us to act more softly on the issue of Cyprus and its exclusive economic zone. I explained to him that we had behaved in accordance with international law,” he said.

“Both North and South Cyprus have rights to any petroleum and natural gas that is found there.”