UPDATE - Turkish, US presidents to speak over phone

UPDATE - Turkish, US presidents to speak over phone

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Donald Trump expected to make phone call on Wednesday, Turkish foreign minister says


By Diyar Guldogan and Satuk Bugra Kutlugun

ANKARA (AA) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his American counterpart Donald Trump will speak over the phone on Wednesday, according to the Turkish foreign minister Tuesday.

"Tomorrow, the two presidents will speak over the phone," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in the French capital, Paris.

Cavusoglu's remarks came after a meeting with his American counterpart Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the International Partnership against Impunity for Use of Chemical Weapons hosted by the French Foreign Ministry.

He said Trump wished to make the phone call. "The time has also been finalized," Turkish foreign minister added, without giving any further details.

About the meeting with Tillerson, Cavusoglu said he had discussed bilateral issues, particularly Syria with him.

Turkey's top diplomat also gave details of his conversation with the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, saying that Johnson also supported Turkish Armed Forces' operation in Afrin.

"Everybody is touching upon the humanitarian aspect of the operation," Cavusoglu said. "No country is more sensitive to this issue than Turkey.

"We have already delivered humanitarian aid to the local people. We have built two camps; these two camps right now consist of 4,000 people.

"We will build more. We have also provided healthcare services. The local people are glad about this. Because we only target terrorists."

Turkey on Saturday launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin.

According to Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.

The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council’s decisions, self-defense rights under the UN charter and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said.

The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost importance" is being given to not harm any civilians.

Afrin has been a major hideout for the PYD/PKK since July 2012 when the Assad regime in Syria left the city to the terror group without putting up a fight.

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