Turkey accuses U.S. of stalling over creation of north Syria buffer zone

Turkey accuses U.S. of stalling over creation of north Syria buffer zone

However, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said USA efforts to create the buffer zone so far were "cosmetic", and accused Washington of trying to "buy time".

"There have been some joint patrols, yes, but steps taken beyond that. are only cosmetic", he said.

Cavusoglu said Turkey wanted to work with the United States, but was prepared to clear the area of Kurdish YPG fighters itself if necessary.

Turkish and American troops began their first joint ground military patrols in the region on Sunday.

Turkey has accused the United States of dragging its feet over the creation of a buffer zone in northern Syria meant to prevent conflict between Turkish and pro-Kurdish forces in the country.

Ankara regards the YPG as a "terrorist" offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group that has fought a guerilla war with Turkey since 1984.

The Syrian Kurdish fighters were the top USA allies in the war against the Islamic State group in Syria. However, Ankara continues to distrust Washington's intentions as US support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) has continued.

Speaking about bilateral trade with the US, the Turkish president said he discussed with his USA counterpart Donald Trump on initiating negotiations on free trade agreement, adding related ministers from both countries would start working on it soon.

"Turkey's options are ready", Cavusoglu said.

The minister's comments came as two USA military officials were visiting Turkey for talks on what Ankara calls "safe zone". The U.S. and Syrian Kurdish forces refer to it as a "stability system".

Turkey's defence ministry said a delegation headed by Lt. Gen. Stephen Twitty, deputy commander of the U.S. European Command, and Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command, met Turkish military officials on Tuesday.

Late last week, the Turkish president accused Europe of failing to fulfil its commitment to pay the agreed sum of 3 billion euros for the detention of refugees in Turkey. The ministry claimed far more discussions would be held Wednesday at a joint operations centre near Turkey's border with Syria.

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