Turkey’s president, Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will finally meet tomorrow, Thursday, with US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, even though he had assured them a few hours earlier that he would not talk to them.
“It is out of the question that I am going to meet with others than Pence and Pompeo,” Erdogan said in statements to journalists published in a tuit by the head of the Turkish Press Directory, Fahrettin Altun.
Shortly before, the Turkish president had stated that he was not going to talk to Pence or Pompeo, because they are not his counterparts.
Part of the U.S. delegation arrived in Ankara this afternoon, including National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien and Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey.
“I’m not going to talk to them (the members of the Washington delegation who are expected today in Ankara). They will talk to their counterparts. I will speak when (US President Donald) Trump comes,” Erdogan had said after a parliamentary meeting in Ankara.
Previously, Anadolu, the official Turkish agency, had advanced that the president would meet tomorrow with Pence and Pompeo, an agenda that Altun has now explicitly confirmed on Twitter.
Earlier today, the president told Sky News that he was not going to receive the U.S. delegation visiting Ankara today.
“He plans to receive the U.S. delegation led by @VP (vice president) tomorrow, as confirmed in the statement to the next Turkish press,” the senior Turkish official said as he published the footage of Erdogan’s new statement.
Prior to this confusion of news, the Turkish president was against negotiating with the Kurdish militias a ceasefire in northeast Syria, as proposed by Trump.
“We are asking for a ceasefire”, said the head of the White House when announcing yesterday the sending of a delegation to mediate in the search for a solution to the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish militias People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara considers terrorist and the Turkish army fighting in northern Syria.
“It does not seem appropriate” for the United States to try to mediate between “the Turkish Republic and a terrorist organization,” Erdogan told a group of journalists accompanying him on a return trip to his country.
Trump announced a day before the start of the Turkish offensive that he will receive Erdogan at the White House on November 13th.
O’Brien will meet this afternoon with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu and presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin, according to Turkish media.
He is also expected to receive Pence and Pompeo, although there is no official confirmation or detailed agenda.
This high-level US visit comes amidst a very confusing situation, after Trump first announced his military withdrawal from Turkey, which was interpreted as a green light to the Turkish attack, and then went on to impose economic sanctions on Ankara to force it to a ceasefire.