UPDATE WITH MORE REMARKS, WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT
By Ozcan Yildirim
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey has no problem with Kurds and aims to fight terror groups Daesh, PKK and its Syrian affiliates PYD/YPG, threatening national security, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a phone call with his U.S. counterpart on Monday.
A statement from the Turkish presidency said Erdogan and Donald Trump discussed the idea of a terror-free safe zone in Syria's northern region.
Turkey backs Trump's decision on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, Erdogan said.
The two leaders agreed to advance bilateral economic relations.
The phone call came after Trump's tweeted threat to "devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds," conflating "Kurds" with the terrorist PYD/YPG, a confusion that Turkey has repeatedly criticized.
The leaders emphasized that the Manbij Road Map should be completed to avoid a vacuum of authority in the region.
Trump "expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey’s security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the United States that Turkey does not mistreat" the PYD/YPG terror group, the White House said in a separate readout of the call.
Joint Chiefs Chairman Joseph Dunford is set to meet with his Turkish counterpart Yasar Guler on Tuesday for further consultations, the White House said.
Erdogan has signaled that a cross-border operation against the PYD/YPG terrorist group in northeastern Syria will happen soon. Since 2016, Ankara has carried out two similar military operations in northern Syria.
Turkish and U.S. troops began joint patrols in Manbij on Nov. 1 as part of an agreement that focuses on the withdrawal of PYD/YPG terrorists from the city to stabilize the region.
PKK is a terrorist group recognized by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, which in its 30-year terror campaign has taken some 40,000 lives.
*Michael Hernandez contributed to this report from Washington