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Turkey: New US proposals for safe zone in northern Syria fall short

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu attends a press conference in Ankara on July 24, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Ankara is not satisfied with new US proposals for a safe zone in northern Syria, warning that Turkey is running out of patience with Washington over the issue.

Turkey has been angered by US support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces based in east of the Euphrates River. Ankara views the armed Kurds in northeastern Syria as an extension of the outlawed militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Turkey has been in talks with the US over the establishment of a militant-free safe zone across its border in northern Syria.

The US special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, held talks with Turkish officials in Ankara this week on the details of the safe zone where he presented new proposals.

Speaking at a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday, Cavusoglu said that the two allies had failed to agree on how deep the safe zone would be, who would control it and whether the area would be completely cleared of the Kurdish militants.

"We got the impression that they want to enter a stalling process here as in Manbij," Cavusoglu said, referring to a deal reached between Ankara and Washington to purportedly remove YPG militants from Syria’s northern town of Manbij that had still not been implemented, more than a year after the plan was agreed.

"We need to reach an agreement regarding the safe zone as soon as possible because we have no patience left," he added.

The Turkish minister also said US military officials meeting with a YPG leader on Monday, which coincided with Jeffrey’s talks at the foreign ministry, showed that Washington was not sincere.

However, the US Embassy in Ankara said in a statement later on Wednesday that Jeffrey held "forthright, positive, and productive" talks with Turkish officials.

"There was an overall discussion on Syria and specifically for the northeast, both sides committed to accelerated and concrete progress on the Manbij roadmap, and discussed detailed proposals to enhance Turkey's security along the Turkish border in northeast Syria," the statement added.

Cavusoglu had warned in an interview with broadcaster TGRT Haber on Monday that if the safe zone is not established in the northern parts of Syria, Turkey will launch an offensive in the Arab country.

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