UPDATE – Erdogan, Trump discuss Syria, economic ties over phone

ADDS WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT

By Ahmet Salih Alacaci

ANKARA (AA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed Washington’s planned troop withdrawal from Syria in a phone call late Thursday.

The two leaders agreed that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria should be carried out in line with common interests, stressing the need to support the political process in the war-torn country, according to Turkish presidential sources.

They also reiterated their countries’ determination to fight all forms of terrorism.

They also agreed to further enhance economic relations, setting a goal of $75 billion in bilateral trade.

The White House said separately in a statement that Erdogan and Trump agreed to continue coordinating on the creation of a potential safe zone in northern Syria.

It also noted that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford would host their Turkish counterparts within the week for further talks.

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

Last December, Trump made a surprise announcement that the U.S. would be withdrawing all of its troops from Syria and said Daesh had been defeated in the country.

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