Turkey's Erdogan says won't allow U.S. stalling in Syria deal
By Daren Butler ISTANBUL (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's deal with the United States to set up a 'safe zone' in northeast Syria was a correct step and that Ankara would not let Washington delay the plan, CNN Turk reported on Thursday. Ankara revealed last weekend that a joint operations centre for the proposed zone along Syria's northeastern border is now fully operational. [L5N25K0F1] Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for the region, where the Kurdish YPG militia form the main part of a U.S.-backed force fighting Islamic State
By Daren Butler
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey's deal with the United States to set up a "safe zone" in northeast Syria was a correct step and that Ankara would not let Washington delay the plan, CNN Turk reported on Thursday.
Ankara revealed last weekend that a joint operations centre for the proposed zone along Syria's northeastern border is now fully operational. [L5N25K0F1]
Washington and Ankara have been at odds over plans for the region, where the Kurdish YPG militia form the main part of a U.S.-backed force fighting Islamic State. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group.
"The agreement which we have reached with the USA is a correct step towards establishing a safe zone and removing the YPG from the east of the Euphrates (river)," Erdogan told reporters on his way back from meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Erdogan said Turkey would not accept delays in the plan, comparing it to an earlier deal with Washington to remove YPG fighters from the northern Syrian city of Manbij, which Ankara accused Washington of delaying.
"We will never tolerate a delay like we saw in Manbij. The process must advance rapidly," Erdogan was quoted as saying by CNN Turk on Thursday.
The safe zone was proposed last year by U.S. President Donald Trump, who had announced plans to withdraw U.S. special forces from northern Syria but later suspended the plan to ensure Washington’s Kurdish allies would be protected.
Erdogan said this week Turkish ground troops would enter the planned safe zone "very soon", having warned previously that Turkey would mount a cross-border offensive on its own to clear the YPG militia from its border if necessary.
"All the personnel, the armoured carriers, all are on the border. That is, we are in a position to do everything at any moment," Erdogan was quoted as saying.
DEFENCE COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA
On Tuesday, an official in a YPG-led alliance said that the YPG will pull forces and heavy weapons from a strip along Syria's border with Turkey under U.S.-Turkish deals.
The YPG withdrew from the Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ain border positions in recent days, proving it is serious about ongoing talks, the Kurdish-led authority in north and east Syria said.
U.S. support for the YPG has enraged Turkey, which views the militia as a terrorist organization linked to Kurdish insurgents inside the country.
The two countries have also fallen out over Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, prompting Washington to begin removing Turkey from its programme for manufacturing F-35 jets, which Turkey also planned to buy.
Erdogan visited an aviation fair with Putin during his visit to Moscow. Asked whether Russia's Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jet and Su-35 aircraft could be among alternatives to the F-35s, Erdogan said: "Why not? We didn't come here for nothing."
The RIA news agency cited a Russian official as saying on Wednesday that the two countries are discussing the possibility of deliveries of the two aircraft to Turkey.
(Reporting by Daren Butler; Editing by Sandra Maler and Sonya Hepinstall)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.