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Associated Press

Pence Heads to Mideast as Turkey Attacks Kurds


Vice President Mike Pence says he’s being dispatched to the Middle East by President Donald Trump as U.S. troops pull out of northeast Syria and Turkish forces invade.

Pence says Trump spoke with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier Monday and called for an immediate end to Turkey’s moves against the Kurds in Syria.

“President Trump communicated to him very clearly that the United States of American wants Turkey to stop the invasion, implement an immediate ceasefire and to begin to negotiate with Kurdish forces in Syria to bring an end to the violence,” Pence said.

Pence says the president is “very concerned about instability in the region” and is denying that Trump gave Turkey the green light to launch the invasion when he announced a troop pullout.

Trump has slapped new sanctions on Turkey to pressure the country to halt an invasion that has opened the door to a resurgence of the Islamic State group.

“I am fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if Turkish leaders continue down this dangerous and destructive path,” Trump said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions will hurt an already weak Turkish economy. 

The White House announced Pence's schedule for his trip to Turkey on Tuesday.

On Oct. 16, Pence will lead a delegation including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, United States National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, and Ambassador James Jeffrey. In Turkey, the Vice President will voice the United States’ commitment to reach an immediate ceasefire and the conditions for a negotiated settlement.

On Oct.17, Pence will participate in a bilateral meeting with President Erdoğan. During the meeting, he will reiterate President Trump's commitment to maintaining punishing economic sanctions on Turkey until a resolution is reached. The ongoing violence in the region severely undermines the D-ISIS campaign, endangers civilians and religious minorities, and threatens the security of the entire region.

The Trump administration is resolved to maintain security in the region, the safety of civilians, and the continued detention of ISIS fighters.

This trip will be Pence's first visit to Turkey as Vice President. 

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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