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March 18, 2019
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Erdogan slams John Bolton for comments about Syrian Kurdish militia

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday flayed White House National Security Advisor John Bolton over his comment on Syrian Kurdish militia.

The Turkish president slammed comment as a “grave mistake”. The comments highlight the tension between the two countries.

Just about an hour before Erdogan’s comments, Bolton held more than two hours of talks with Erdogan’s adviser Ibrahim Kalin in Ankara.

The marathon meeting was focused on the surprise US decision to withdraw US troops from Syria.

“It is not possible to accept or swallow the message given by Bolton from Israel,” Erdogan told his party’s lawmakers in parliament.

Tensions erupted ahead of the Ankara talks after Bolton said Sunday in Israel the retreat was also conditional on the safety of US-backed Kurdish fighters, considered terrorists by Turkey.

A furious Erdogan said that John Bolton had made a grave mistake on this issue.

US President Donald Trump caused a political storm last month when he announced the troop pullout because the battle against the militant Islamic State (IS) group had been won.

“President Trump made the right call to withdraw from Syria,” Erdogan said in a column published in the New York Times, outlining Turkey’s “comprehensive strategy” to eliminate the causes of radicalisation in the war-torn country.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also drew the wrath of the Turkish leadership when he said Washington will ensure Ankara does not “slaughter” Kurds in Syria as American troops withdraw.

Erdogan lambasted the comments Tuesday and said: “That Turkey targets the Kurds is the vilest, the most dishonourable, the ugliest and the cheapest slander.”