Trump speaks with Erdogan on phone over Syria

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Washington, Dec 24 (IANS) US President Donald Trump has said that he had a telephonic conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over issues related to Syria.

“We discussed ISIS (IS), our mutual involvement in Syria, and the slow and highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area,” Trump said on Sunday on his Twitter account, describing the phone conversation as “long and productive”, Xinhua reported.

The two leaders also discussed expanded trade between the two countries in their phone call.

Trump agreed to withdraw US troops from Syria during his phone conversation with Erdogan on December 14, the media had reported citing officials.

The State Department cleared Turkey to purchase a package of Patriot missile systems on December 18, with an estimated cost of $3.5 billion.

The Trump administration announced on December 19 that it started returning US troops home from Syria after claiming a victory in the fight against the IS, without revealing any detailed timetable.

The decision to withdraw US troops in Syria was widely regarded as the last straw for Defence Secretary James Mattis’ resignation on December 20.

Following Mattis, Brett McGurk, the US envoy for the global coalition to defeat Islamic State (IS), also resigned on December 21, which was another sign of senior officials’ objection over the US troops withdrawal from Syria.

The time-frame for US troops withdrawal from war-torn Syria is expected to be 60 days and 100 days, informed sources said.

The US has deployed troops to Syria fighting the IS since 2015, and there are more than 2,000 US soldiers in Syria.

–IANS

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