ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US counterpart Donald Trump agreed in a phone conversation Sunday to prevent a power vacuum in Syria after American ground forces withdraw, the Turkish presidency said.
“The two leaders agreed to ensure coordination between their countries’ military, diplomatic and other officials to avoid a power vacuum which could result following any abuse of the withdrawal and transition phase in Syria,” the presidency said in a statement.
Trump stunned his allies and the US establishment on Wednesday when he ordered the withdrawal of 2,000 American ground forces in Syria.
The shock move led to the resignations of US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the anti-IS coalition.
But Turkey has welcomed the decision.
Erdogan on Sunday told Trump that Turkey was “ready to give any support to our NATO ally within the framework of this decision” to withdraw, according to the statement.
Earlier, Trump and Erdogan each said on Twitter that they held a “productive” phone conversation.
The US president also said he discussed “the slow & highly coordinated pullout of US troops from the area” during the call.
The two men also agreed that trade was below the desired level between the US and Turkey, and should be increased, the Turkish presidency added.
Relations between Turkey and the US have improved since a bitter row in the summer over the detention of an American pastor who was subsequently released in October.
Ties have been particularly strained in recent years over the US presence in Syria supporting a Kurdish militia fighting against the Islamic State group.
Ankara says the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia is a “terrorist offshoot” of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey.