February 21, 2019 / 9:46 PM / 2 months ago

Turkey's Erdogan, Trump discussed U.S. withdrawal from Syria in phone call: state media

FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin, during their meeting in the Black sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 14 February 2019. Sergei Chirikov/Pool via REUTERS

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Thursday to carry out the U.S. military withdrawal from Syria in line with their mutual interests, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said.

In December, Trump confounded his own national security team with a surprise decision to withdraw all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria, declaring that Islamic State had been defeated there.

Erdogan previously said that uncertainty remained over the U.S. withdrawal from Syria, adding there was talk of the pullout taking place in April or May.

During their phone call, Erdogan and Trump agreed that the U.S. withdrawal from Syria should not damage the mutual goals of Ankara and Washington, Anadolu said.

Turkey wants to set up a safe zone with logistical support from allies and says it should be cleared of the U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara views as a terrorist organization linked with Kurdish militants on its own soil.

Erdogan and Trump also discussed bilateral relations and the latest developments in Syria, Anadolu said, adding that the two agreed to support a political resolution to the Syria conflict.

Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey’s desire to maintain close ties with the United States in the phone call and the two leaders agreed to improve bilateral economic ties, Anadolu said.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney

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