Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he has "every expectation" that he and Vice President Mike Pence, who are heading to Turkey Wednesday afternoon, will meet in person with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"The president felt it was important that we do this at the most senior levels of the United States government to speak to him face to face — he needs to stop the incursion into Syria," Pompeo told Fox Business' Maria Bartiromo.
His comments came after conflicting reports out of Turkey. Early Wednesday, Erdogan told Sky News that he will only speak with President Donald Trump about a ceasefire, and not with the Pence-Pompeo delegation. Later in the morning, however, Erdogan's spokesman tweeted that the Turkish president will meet with the U.S. delegation after all.
"This is a complicated matter with lots of states at play, lots of nonstate actors as well we are working to try and find a resolution," Pompeo told Bartiromo.
Pompeo added that he was part of a telephone call between Erdogan and Trump, during which the Turkish leader said his troops would not enter the northern Syrian city of Kobani. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted Tuesday that he was also part of that telephone call.
"(Erdogan) said he wasn't in a position to move, into Kobani," said Pompeo. "I spoke about it with my counterpart, the foreign minister, in what would have been 24 hours ago, (and) he made the same commitment, to me. It is a big city with a large civilian population, a multiethnic civilian population..it's one of the things we are traveling today to talk to President Erdogan about. We need him to stand down. We need a cease-fire at when point we can begin to put this all back together again."
Meanwhile, Pompeo said he thinks the world has underappreciated the severity of Trump-ordered sanctions against Turkey and how much impact they will have on its economy.
"Our goal isn't to break the relationship with Turkey," said Pompeo. "It is to deny Turkey the capacity to continue to engage in this behavior."
He added that he will leave details about Trump's decision to pull troops out of Syria, but insisted the administration is working to be sure there is no vacuum left behind because of the pullout that will allow other entities to take control.
"When we came into office two and a half years ago this was a broken place, a difficult challenge where President (Barack) Obama had not done things that needed to be done to contain (Bashar) Assad's Syrian regime," said Pompeo. "We have been trying to remedy that situation with great success. To success was to takedown of ISIS caliphate. We're proud of what we have done President Trump is committed to ensuring that ISIS does not rise again."
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