US and Turkey agree to cease-fire in Syria, Pence announces

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan receives U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at Presidential Complex in Ankara, Turkey on October 17, 2019. (Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Turkish Presidency via Getty Images)

ANKARA, Turkey — Vice President Mike Pence announced Thursday that the United States and Turkey have agreed to a cease-fire in Syria after negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Pence held a press conference announcing the news after he was escorted out of the ornate presidential complex by the Turkish vice president.

The talks between the two leaders lasted for over four hours.

Trump announced “great news” out of Pence-Erdogan talks in Turkey, saying “millions of lives will be saved,” on Twitter just before Pence’s formal announcement Thursday.

Ahead of the meeting, the U.S. officials were expected to warn Erdogan that he will face additional economic sanctions if he doesn’t halt his assault on Kurdish forces once allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group.

President Donald Trump told Erdogan in a letter last week that the sanctions could destroy his economy and that the world “will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don’t happen. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!”

On Wednesday, Trump spoke dismissively of the same crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse. The U.S. delegation’s visit came hours after Trump declared the U.S. has no stake in defending Kurdish fighters who died by the thousands as America’s partners against Islamic State extremists.

Trump suggested Wednesday that Kurdish fighters might be a greater terror threat than the Islamic State group, and he welcomed the efforts of Russia and the Assad government to fill the void left after he ordered the removal of nearly all U.S. troops from Syria amid a Turkish assault on the Kurds.

“Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine,” Trump said. “They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So, there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.”

He added: “Let them fight their own wars.”

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