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Turkish Leader to Bolton: You Made 'Grave Mistake'

Erdogan says US official erred in demanding safety of Kurds in Syria
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2019 11:23 AM CST
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)
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(Newser) – The planned US withdrawal from Syria just got even thornier. Turkey's president criticized national security adviser John Bolton's comments on the issue and didn't meet with Bolton in a move widely perceived as a diplomatic snub. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took issue with Bolton's weekend statement from Israel in which Bolton demanded that Turkey protect US-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria when the US pulls out, reports the New York Times. Erdogan sees the Kurd fighters as terrorists who support a Kurdish insurgency inside his nation. "It is not possible for us to swallow the message Bolton gave from Israel," said Erdogan, calling it a "grave mistake."

What's more, Erdogan suggested that Turkey would reject a US request to hold off on any military operation against the Kurds in Syria, reports the Washington Post. "Very soon, we will take action to neutralize terrorist organizations in Syria," he said. Bolton was in Turkey on Tuesday and had been expected to meet with Erdogan, but the Turkish president said he was too busy, reports the AP. All of this comes after President Trump made his surprise announcement that US troops were withdrawing from Syria—"they’re all coming back and they're coming back now," he said. Bolton then embarked on his trip overseas to assure allies that the withdrawal would be conducted carefully. (Read more John Bolton stories.)

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