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Trump promises ‘devastating’ sanctions on Turkey if Erdogan-Pence meeting on Syria op fails

Trump promises ‘devastating’ sanctions on Turkey if Erdogan-Pence meeting on Syria op fails
US President Donald Trump has issued a new threat against NATO ally Turkey, promising to impose “devastating” sanctions on the country if the upcoming meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US VP Mike Pence flops.

Speaking during a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella, Trump did not mince his words, warning the Turkish leadership that the Thursday meeting better be a success.

“I think they will have a successful meeting. If they don’t, the sanctions and tariffs and other things that we’re going, we will do and are doing to Turkey, will be devastating to Turkey’s economy,” Trump stated.

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The upcoming talks have already become a source of confusion, as Turkey’s president said early on Wednesday he did not intend to meet any US officials face-to-face except for Trump himself. Later in the day, however, Erdogan seemingly changed his mind, stating that he was actually ready to talk to Pence and the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Turkey-US relations, which have been quite rocky for quite a while already, entered a downward spiral last week as Trump decided to pull out US troops from Syria’s northeast, while Ankara launched a military operation against Kurdish-led militias in the country. The US president has repeatedly warned Turkey not to “slaughter” the Syrian Kurds, promising to cripple the country’s economy. Ankara hit back, stating its operation against the militias – which it regards as “terrorists” will only stop when a 30km-deep “safe zone” within Syria’s territory is created.

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