UPDATES WITH REMARKS; CHANGES HEADLINE, LEDE
By Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak
ANKARA (AA) - French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday French, British and German leaders will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan again early next year to discuss Syria, Libya and other issues.
“I'm very happy that we had a very useful meeting yesterday with British Prime Minister, Chancellor [Angela] Merkel and President Erdogan," Macron told a news conference after the NATO leaders’ summit in London.
The meeting, which helped clarify various issues, also “allowed us … to reaffirm our priority in fighting [Daesh/ISIS], and our common commitment to the refugee issue and a political solution to the Syrian conflict,” the French leader said, in remarks translated into English.
Erdogan on Tuesday met Macron and Merkel, alongside host Johnson at the residence of the prime minister at 10 Downing Street.
The leaders discussed latest developments in Syria and exchanged views on Turkey's operation targeting YPG/PKK terrorist in northern Syria.
The meeting “started a very useful dialogue and clarified certain misunderstandings with Turkey,” Macron said.
However, the French leader reiterated his opposition to classifying PKK terrorist Syrian offshoot YPG as a terror group.
“We’re combatting the PKK and those groups that are fighting against Turkey directly. But we’re not equating these different political and military groups to each other. So, we disagree on this. And that has not been changed,” said Macron.
However, he added: “When ... certain groups do have terrorist intentions on Turkish soil against the Turkish country, [for us] there's no ambiguity about the fact that we will fight against those groups,” he added.
Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Under two separate deals with the U.S. and Russia, Turkey paused the operation to allow the withdrawal of YPG/PKK terrorists from the planned Syria safe zone.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some 2 million refugees.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
* Davut Demircan contributed to this report