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Turkey says Trump told Erdogan won't give Syria Kurds more arms

AFP , Friday 24 Nov 2017
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U.S. President Donald Trump speaks via teleconference with troops from Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., November 23, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)
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President Donald Trump has informed Ankara that the US will no longer supply weapons to the Syrian Kurdish militia fighting Islamic State (IS) militants, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday.

Trump delivered the message during what the Turkish presidency called a "productive" phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday

"Mr Trump said he gave a clear order and that after this, weapons would not be supplied to the YPG, essentially he said this nonsense should have been ended earlier," Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a press conference in Ankara.

The YPG is the Peoples' Protection Units Kurdish militia in Syria, which the US has seen as the most effective fighting force on the ground against IS.

"Naturally, we welcomed these statements," said Cavusoglu, adding: "Of course we want to see this put into practice."

There was no immediate comment from the US side regarding the content of the telephone call between the two leaders.

In recent months, the YPG has recaptured territory from the IS militants, including the former de facto IS capital Raqa in northern Syria.

But Turkey views the YPG and its political wing, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as "terror" groups linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Cavusoglu again repeated that Turkey saw the YPG as a "threat" trying to divide Syria.

The PKK -- blacklisted as a "terror" group by Turkey and its Western allies including the US -- has waged an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984.

Relations between the US and Turkey have been strained since the administration of former President Barack Obama over its support for the YPG and the failure to extradite Pennsylvania-based Fethullah Gulen blamed for ordering last year's coup bid.

Gulen strongly denies the charges.

Bilateral ties are at further risk of fraying over a scheduled trial in New York of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab and Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank, both accused of defying US sanctions on Iran.

The trial is expected to start early next month but there are fears over possible fines against one or more Turkish banks in the event of a guilty verdict.

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