Washington: US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed "ongoing cooperation in Syria as American forces begin to withdraw" during a phone call, just a day after Trump threatened to "devastate Turkey economically" if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurdish militia in the region.
"The President expressed the desire to work together to address Turkey's security concerns in northeast Syria while stressing the importance to the US that Turkey does not mistreat the Kurds and other Syrian Democratic Forces with whom we have fought to defeat the IS (Islamic State)," CNN quoted White House press secretary Sarah Sanders as saying on Monday night about the call that took place earlier in the day.
Sanders said that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford will meet his Turkish counterpart on Tuesday "to continue consultations" on Syria.
"Gen. Dunford is scheduled to meet his Turkish counterpart this week on the sidelines of the NATO Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session, which will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium," Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Dunford told CNN.
On Monday night, Trump confirmed the phone call in a tweet.
"Spoke with President Erdogan of Turkey to advise where we stand on all matters including our last two weeks of success in fighting the remnants of IS, and 20 mile safe zone. Also spoke about economic development between the US and Turkey - great potential to substantially expand," he wrote.
During the call, Erdogan told Trump that Turkey backs the President's withdrawal decision and extends all kinds of support to the US, according to Turkish news agency Anadolu.
Anadolu said Erdogan emphatically told Trump that Turkey does not have any problems with the Kurds and that "Turkey aims to fight all terror organisations including IS, PKK (The Kurdistan Workers Party) and its cross-border extensions that are threat to its national security".
The two leaders agreed on developing bilateral economic relations to a higher level, according to the report, CNN reported.
Monday's call between Trump and Erdogan comes a day after the US President issued a stark threat toward Turkey, saying that Washington "will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds".
Turkey views some Kurdish groups in the region as terrorist groups and Kurds make up the majority of US-allied fighters operating in Syria in the civil war against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu responded directly to Trump's comments on Monday prior to the phone call.
"As for Donald Trump's threat language, we have repeatedly said that we will not be afraid of any threat... You cannot have any result from threatening Turkey economically. We need to see how we can solve this problem together."