Turkey’s Erdogan accuses Bolton of ‘serious mistake’ as rift between NATO allies deepens

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By Carol E. Lee

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not meet with U.S. national security adviser John Bolton on Tuesday, while telegraphing a widening rift between the NATO allies that leaves the Trump administration’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria in limbo.

In a speech to parliament, Erdogan said that Bolton had made “serious mistake” in calling for a new condition for the U.S. exit from Syria. Bolton has been seeking assurances that Turkey wouldn’t attack Washington’s Syrian Kurdish allies after American forces depart.

He said that Turkey would never compromise on the issue of the YPG Kurdish militia, which the U.S. has backed in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. Turkey sees the YPG as a terrorist organisation and part of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.

Before his arrival in Ankara, Bolton said that no U.S. troops would leave northern Syria until Turkey agreed to not attack the Syrian Kurds. The demand, which Bolton said came from Trump, immediately drew criticism from Turkish officials.

Bolton concluded his visit to Turkey with more than two hours of discussions with officials Tuesday, but without meeting Erdogan.

National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said Erdogan called Bolton’s Turkish counterpart, Ibrahim Kalın, during their meeting and told him to send his regards to Bolton. However, Erdogan said he wouldn’t be able to spend any time with Bolton because because he was headed to parliament to deliver a speech.

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