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  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence watches as President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2019.

    U.S. Vice President Mike Pence watches as President Donald Trump holds a joint news conference with Italy's President Sergio Mattarella in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 16, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 October 2019

Erdogan has repeatedly vowed to eliminate the 'terror' threat along the Syrian-Turkish border, despite Washington's reservations over this operation. 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday to urge him to halt his country's incursion into Syria, the Reuters News Agency reported.

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Pence's visit came shortly after a letter penned by U.S. President Donald Trump to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan was leaked on Twitter. 

In the letter, Trump warns Erdogan to not test the U.S.' patience with their Syrian border operation, adding that he will sanction Turkey to no end if they continue with their cross-border offensive. 

However, it appears Erdogan was not receptive to the letter as the BBC reported that he threw the letter in a trash bin after reading it. 

Erdogan stated on Wednesday that Turkey will not allow threats from their NATO partners to prevent them from carrying out their mission to eliminate the 'terror' threat along their border. 

Since launching their offensive, the Turkish military has captured many areas along the Syrian border, including the city of Tal Abyad in the Al-Raqqa province. Turkey’s week-long assault has also created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 160,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of Islamic State fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for Trump.

Trump has found himself in hot water over the Turkish military operation as both Republican and Democratic members of the Senate and House criticize him over his abrupt withdrawal from the Syria's northern border.

Trump defended his move on Wednesday and called it “strategically brilliant”.

Following a phone call with Erdogan, who has rejected calls for ceasefire or mediation, Trump dispatched top aides including Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Ankara for emergency talks to try to persuade Turkey to halt the offensive.

On Wednesday, Trump said he thought Pence and Erdogan would have a “successful meeting”, but warned of sanctions and tariffs that “will be devastating to Turkey’s economy” otherwise. Kalin said that Turkey’s foreign ministry was preparing to retaliate to the U.S. sanctions.

Trump’s critics say the U.S. sanctions so far, including a hike to steel tariffs, a pause in trade talks, and sanctions on the defense and energy ministries, were too soft.

On Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said they could be broadened, while Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives also indicated a sanctions legislation.

Erdogan has dismissed the sanctions and rejected a global chorus of calls to halt the offensive, which Turkey says will create a “safe zone” extending 20 miles (32 km) into northeast Syria to ensure the return of millions of Syrian refugees and clear the area of Kurdish fighters Ankara views as terrorists.

On Wednesday, October 9th, the Turkish military and their allied rebel forces began a large-scale operation to capture the Syrian border region under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

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