Turkey, Russia to discuss pullout of Kurdish forces from planned safe zone in Syria

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ANKARA, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- Turkey and Russia will discuss the pullout of the Syrian Kurdish fighters from the northern Syrian towns of Manbij and Ain al-Arab during talks between Russian and Turkish leaders in the Russian city of Sochi on Tuesday, the broadcaster Kanal 7 reported Sunday.

"We will discuss the removal of the YPG (People's Protection Units) terrorists from our borders, namely Manbij and Kobane, with the Russians," Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Kanal 7, using Ain al-Arab's another name.

"We believe we can reach an agreement with them to work together in the future, just like we have done before," he said.

The minister noted that Turkey did not want to see a single member of the YPG left in the planned safe zone at the end of the cease-fire period.

Turkey sees the YPG, main component of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Despite the fact that Ankara has "observed some withdrawals" of Kurdish fighters, "the group is engaged in provocations toward us," Cavusoglu said.

The military operation launched by Turkey in northern Syria was very "strategic," "important" and "timely" for the stability and security of the region, he stressed.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring to eliminate the YPG in northern Syria in order to secure a safe zone across its borders to return the Syrian refugees.

During the Turkish incursion, the Syrian government forces have advanced toward the Kurdish-controlled regions in the north over a deal with the Syrian Kurds.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reached an agreement on Thursday, which envisages the YPG fighters evacuating a swath of territory in Syria along the Turkish border.

The deal allows 120 hours for the withdrawal of the YPG forces from the Turkish border to 20 miles (32 km) south of the planned safe zone, during which the Turkish military suspended its offensive.

"We aim to reach an agreement that is acceptable for all parties. But we have only one condition, clearing the YPG presence there," he told journalists on Friday.

"It is not a problem for us that the regime (Syrian government) will control these regions," he added. Enditem

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