- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday he will refuse to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, who is traveling to Turkey to push for a cease-fire in the attacks on Kurdish forces in Syria.

“I’m not going to talk to them. They will be talking to their counterparts,” Mr. Erdogan said of Mr. Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in comments to Sky News. “When Trump comes here, I’ll be talking.”

But later, Mr. Erdogan’s spokesman said the president “does plan to meet the U.S. delegation led by [Mr. Pence] tomorrow.” It wasn’t clear who he would meet.

The vice president’s office said Mr. Pence would leave Washington as scheduled Wednesday to lead a U.S. delegation that includes Mr. Pompeo, White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and the special representative for Syria, James Jeffrey. They want to persuade Mr. Erdogan to halt his military offensive across the border in northeast Syria, which began last week. Mr. Pence had been expected to meet with Mr. Erdogan on Thursday.

Mr. Erdogan said he would not agree to a cease-fire. He said Turkey will end its offensive in Syria when it finishes creating a “safe zone” from the city of Manbij to the border with Iraq.

“We will never declare a cease-fire,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters Tuesday. “They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions.”

Mr. Erdogan also said he will decide after his government’s meetings with the U.S. delegation whether he will visit the White House next month.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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