Turkish officials sound optimistic over Syria safe zone after meeting US delegation

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Turkish officials sounded optimistic about establishing a safe zone near its southern border after a delegation from Washington visited Ankara this week to discuss issues regarding Syria, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.

The delegation, led by James Jeffrey, US special envoy for Syria engagement and the special envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIL, met with presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın, foreign ministry officials and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar separately on Wednesday.

According to the report, Jeffrey and Turkish officials discussed the implementation of a roadmap agreed by the two NATO allies last year for Syria’s Manbij region, rebuilding Syria and keeping Idlib safe from a military operation that would cause civilian deaths.

“It was assured that all of Turkey’s security concerns will be allayed with the planned safe zone and that all terrorist groups will be eliminated from the region,” a presidential source is quoted as saying in the HDN report.

Akar and Jeffrey discussed the latest developments in Syria, particularly the situation east of the Euphrates, Turkey’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Turkey and the US have launched talks for a possible safe zone near the Turkish border in northern Syria, following Washington’s decision to withdraw most of its troops in the country. The idea responds to Turkey’s concerns about the threat posed by Kurdish militias and harassment fire by the group in the region.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday said the two countries are getting closer to an agreement on the details of a safe zone.

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