In a televised speech on Friday, following an abrupt US decision to withdraw troops from Syria, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that diplomatic relations with the US have reached their “desired level.”
The comments come after reports indicated that US President Donald Trump decided to end the US mission in Syria against the advice of his staff while speaking with Erdogan during a phone call last week.
Speaking Friday, Erdogan said that an operation to neutralize Kurdish forces in Syria’s northeast would begin “in the coming months,” indicating a delay to allow for a US troop withdrawal, per The Financial Times. The Turkish president had previously threatened to launch the assault within days.
An account of the phone call between the two presidents from the Associated Press, which has been disputed by the White House, cited one official as saying that the original purpose of the call was to express opposition to Turkey’s incursion into northeastern Syria.
“The talking points were very firm,” one of the officials was quoted as saying. “Everybody said push back and try to offer [Turkey] something that’s a small win, possibly holding territory on the border, something like that.”
But according to the AP’s and other accounts of the phone call, Trump was amenable to the idea of pulling US troops out, a policy he had campaigned on and had repeatedly expressed a desire to do.
In his speech on Friday, Erdogan suggested that there is little daylight between his views and those of Trump regarding Syria.
“I have seen in our face-to-face and telephone conversations, including our last call, that Mr Trump and I personally share the same thoughts and same opinions on most matters to do with Syria,” he said.
“Reflecting our unified views on the ground was difficult and overdue, but it has now happened.”