By Tugrul Cam
ANKARA (AA) - A delegation representing Washington was in constant contact with the YPG/PKK terror group during four-hour-plus meetings with Turkish authorities Thursday on Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria, according to a U.S. official.
Returning from the Turkish capital Ankara to the U.S. after the talks, the official told reporters that the U.S. delegation led by Vice President Mike Pence discussed the logistics of the YPG/PKK withdrawal from Turkey's planned safe zone in northern Syria, a senior U.S. official said on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. officials also asked the YPG/PKK to end its cross-border mortar attacks on Turkey.
The official said that a statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying: "We will pause the Operation Peace Spring, this is not a cease-fire," was the result of semantic differences between Turkish and English, stressing that the "pause" referred to cease-fire and that the agreement was clear.
The official said they understood that the two sides would reach an agreement after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inquired on the timeframe of the YPG/PKK terrorists' withdrawal.
During the meeting, Erdogan underlined that Turkish soldiers were martyred during the operation in northeastern Syria, and the U.S. side expressed condolences.
Pence made phone calls with top names in the U.S.Congress from both parties on the Turkey-U.S. agreement following the meetings in Ankara, the official said, adding that a recent letter from U.S. President Donald Trump to Erdogan on Oct. 9 was not mentioned during the talks.
Turkey and the U.S. agreed on Thursday to pause Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria.
Turkey agreed to pause its Operation Peace Spring for 120 hours in order to allow the withdrawal of terrorist YPG/PKK from the planned safe zone.
In talks Thursday, Erdogan and Pence also agreed on Turkey having a safe zone 20 miles (32 kilometers) deep south of the Turkish border in northern Syria.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria on Oct. 9 in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants to clear the region east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG/PKK.
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 deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.