ADDS WHITE HOUSE COMMENTS
By Diyar Guldogan and Satuk Bugra Kutlugun
ANKARA (AA) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his American counterpart Donald Trump will speak over the phone Wednesday, according to Turkey’s foreign minister.
"Tomorrow, the two presidents will speak over the phone," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters Tuesday in the French capital, Paris.
Cavusoglu's remarks came after a meeting with his American counterpart Rex Tillerson on the sidelines of the launch 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," he added, without providing further details.
The White House later said it expects de-escalation vis-a-vis Afrin to be on the agenda during Wednesday's call.
"We want them to de-escalate. I think you can expect that to be part of the conversation," spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters. "But I’m not going to get ahead of their call. And we’ll have a readout after that takes place."
About the meeting with Tillerson, Cavusoglu said he had discussed bilateral issues with him, particularly Syria.
Turkey's top diplomat also gave details of his conversation with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, saying that Johnson also supported the 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 the 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 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.