VP Pence: Turkey agrees to Syria ceasefire

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Turkish soldiers stand atop of their tanks at a staging area close to the border with Syria in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and State Secretary Mike Pompeo were scheduled to arrive in Ankara and press Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to accept a ceasefire in northeast Syria. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

SYRIA (NEWS10) – Turkey has agreed to a ceasefire in northern Syria between its forces and their allied rebels and U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds, Vice President Mike Pence announced. Pence met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday to push for a ceasefire.

Erdogan had repeatedly rejected the idea, saying his government would not negotiate with what it considers a terrorist organization.

The Kurds in Syria had been armed by and fought alongside the U.S. against ISIS. Turkey considers these forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, to be terrorists, indistinguishable from Kurdish separatists in Turkey that Turkey and the U.S. both have designated as terrorists.

Pence and Erdogan met in Turkey’s capital Ankara for one hour and 20 minutes — a one-on-one meeting that was originally scheduled to last just 10 minutes. In footage released by Turkish state media, Pence shook hands with the strongman president and said, “Thanks for seeing me.”

Pence was joined by U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey, a veteran diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Turkey and served as translator during the meeting.

Later, the full delegations met, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien from the U.S. side and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from Turkey.

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