LONDON – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will refuse to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, who will travel to Turkey to argue for a ceasefire in the ongoing Syria conflict.
"I will not talk to them. They will talk to their counterparts. When Trump comes here, I will talk," he said in comments to Sky News, citing the US delegation.
The Vice President's Office announced Tuesday that Pence would lead a US delegation including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor Robert O. & Brien and Syria's Special Representative James Jeffrey to Turkey on Wednesday. The purpose of the trip was to convince Erdogan to stop his offensive in the region.
On Tuesday, Erdogan promised that he would not declare a ceasefire in northeastern Syria.
"They say 'explain weapons of arms'. We will never declare a weapon of arms," Erdogan told reporters after a visit to Azerbaijan.
"They are pushing us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions," he added.
The Vice President's Office said that Pence's travel plans remained unchanged and that he was still expected to go to Turkey on Wednesday.
Pence would meet with Erdogan on Thursday to urge the Turkish leader to reach an immediate ceasefire and reiterate President Donald Trump's commitment to enforce financial sanctions against Turkey until a resolution is reached, the vice president's office said in a statement.
Erdogan told reporters in Parliament on Wednesday that he will evaluate whether to visit the United States next month after meetings with the US delegation in Ankara this week, according to a Reuters translation.
He said that no force could stop Turkey's offensive in Syria that would come to an end when Turkey completes the formation of its "safe zone" which will run from Manbij in the west to the Iraq border, a distance of about 260 miles, he added. [1
Reaching a resolution can be an uphill battle. Trump reiterated Tuesday that the United States demanded a ceasefire and appeared to threaten even more sanctions if it could not be achieved.
“Solid steel duty. They ship a lot of steel to the United States. They make a long time with money transporting steel. They won't make much money, "he told reporters Tuesday in the White House's rose garden.
" We want to bring our soldiers home after so many years, and they are the world's greatest warrior. They police. They are not a police force, "he added.
On Monday, Trump ordered new sanctions against Turkish government officials" and all those contributing to Turkey's destabilizing measures in northeastern Syria. "
Trump said he plans to raise tariffs on steel up to 50 percent and" immediately "stop trade negotiations with the country, specifically a $ 100 billion trade.
In an Op-Ed written in the Wall Street Journal on Monday Erdogan said Operation Peace Spring, which began on October 9, was aimed at "ending the humanitarian crisis and addressing the violence and instability that are the root causes of irregular migration in our region."
Erdogan said the international community had not done enough to help Turkey with the millions of Syrian refugees it took in.
"Turkey reached its border," he said.
The Kremlin said Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had invited Erdogan to visit Russia "during the coming day's "and that the Turkish president had accepted the invitation. Kurdish troops fighting Turkish-led forces have called on Damascus and Moscow to help dismiss the invading Turkish troops.
These diplomatic overtures came as Syrian regime forces continued to press north toward the Turkish border and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)) and Turkish-led forces collided, among others, in Ras al-Ayn and Tel Helef, according to the SDF.
Col. Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the US-led coalition of nations fighting ISIS in the region, said all coalition troops had left the city of Manbij on Tuesday. At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defense said that the Russian military police were patrolling the northwestern borders of the Manbij district along the line of contact between Syrian regime troops and Turkish forces.
Aziz Akyavas, Emmanuelle Saliba and Hallie Jackson contributed.