ADDS US STATE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT AND BACKGROUND
By Tevfik Durul
ANKARA (AA) - Turkey’s foreign minister and his U.S. counterpart spoke over the phone, Turkish diplomatic sources announced on Saturday.
Mevlut Cavusoglu and Mike Pompeo discussed the latest developments in Syria, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
The phone call came during Pompeo's nine-nation tour of the Middle East, which is aimed at reassuring allies following U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal decision from Syria.
State Department's deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement that the two ministers agreed on the importance of continuing U.S.-Turkish consultations as part of the "deliberate and coordinated" withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
"Secretary Pompeo reiterated the United States’ commitment to addressing Turkish security concerns along the Turkey-Syria border," said Palladino.
He added Pompeo also stressed the importance that the U.S. places on the protection of forces, namely PYD/YPG, the Syrian offshoot of PKK terror organization.
Last December, Trump announced plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, claiming that American forces had defeated Daesh there.
Senior U.S. officials and lawmakers have called on Trump to not abandon the PYD/YPG as he pulls out of Syria. National Security Advisor John Bolton conditioned the exit on guarantees from Turkey not to attack the group -- angering Ankara.
Turkey has criticized the U.S. working with the terrorist PKK/PYD to fight Daesh, saying that using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.
In its 30-year terrorist campaign, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children. The PKK/PYD/YPG, its Syrian branch, terrorizes Kurds, Turkmen, and Arabs in Syria, according to Turkish officials.
*Servet Gunerigok in Washington contributed to the story.