Erdogan gave two warnings to Tillerson - pro-gov't paper
Turkey flatly refused U.S. requests that Kurdish groups be represented at talks in Geneva aimed at bringing an end to the civil war in Syria, Sabah newspaper reported.
According to information given to a cabinet meeting chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s absolute refusal was conveyed to U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in talks last week.
“The United States is arming a terrorist organization. They are engaged in actions to break up the Republic of Turkey. This is clear… We will not sit at the table with a terrorist organisation,” was the message given to the United States, according to Sabah.
Turkey also dismissed as “childish” a U.S. offer to get forces of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to destroy the mainly Iraq-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), saying that there is no difference between the YPG and the PKK. The PKK has been engaged in three decades of war against Turkey seeking autonomy for Kurds in the southeast of the country. More than 40,000 people have died in the conflict.
The messages conveyed to the U.S. officials also included Turkey’s demand that the United States removes the YPG from the northern Syrian town of Manbij and for it to restore the demographic composition of the region to that of before the start of the civil war.
Turkish troops marched into Syria last month and are laying siege to the Kurdish-controlled town of Afrin. Erdoğan has previously said that Turkey is prepared to extend its operations to Manbij to remove Kurdish fighters there who have received training and supplies from the United States military.
“Until Turkey’s southern border with Iraq is cleared of terrorists, Turkey’s operations there will continue with no deviation. No compromises will be made,” Sabah quoted Turkish government sources as saying.