By Muhammet Emin Avundukluoglu
ANKARA (AA) - If the visiting U.S. national security aide wants to speak to a Turkish official, he should talk with the presidential spokesman, said Turkey’s president on Tuesday.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan turning down a meeting with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton followed Bolton’s claim that Turkey “targets Kurds” in Syria, claims that were firmly rejected by Ankara.
If meeting with Bolton were “necessary,” then "we could have said yes,” Erdogan told reporters in the capital Ankara, citing his “heavy schedule” in turning down the meeting. Bolton should instead meet with presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, said Erdogan.
Erdogan added that he can talk to U.S. President Donald Trump at any moment.
It was after a phone conversation with Erdogan last month that Trump decided to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.
On Sunday, Bolton had said the U.S. will not withdraw troops from northeastern Syria until the Turkish government guarantees it won’t attack “Kurdish fighters,” referring to the PKK/YPG terrorist group.
Turkish officials reject any conflation of ethnic Kurds with YPG/PKK terrorists, saying the PKK/YPG terrorizes Syrian Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen alike.
In its 30-year terrorist campaign, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. 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.
Turkey has criticized the U.S. working with the terrorist PKK/YPG to fight Daesh, saying using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.
Since arriving in Turkey on Monday, Bolton has met with both Kalin and Turkish Chief General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler.
Kalin on Sunday called Bolton’s claims “irrational,” as Turkey is fighting terrorists of both Daesh and the PKK/PYD/YPG.