Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday refused to meet with US National Security Adviser John Bolton in Ankara, according to US officials.
Bolton came on a two-day visit in Turkey to discuss the withdrawal of 2,000 US troops from Syria. On Sunday, while in Israel, Bolton said he would seek assurances from Erdogan not to harm the Kurds the US would be leaving behind unprotected in Syria, which appears to have a condition of the withdrawal.
On Tuesday, Erdogan slammed Bolton for his recent claim that Turkey “targets Kurds” in Syria.
“It is impossible to accept the message given by Mr. Bolton in Israel,” Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development [AK] Party’s parliamentary delegation.
“The claims that Turkey targets Kurds in Syria are dishonorable, ugly, vulgar and defaming,” Erdogan said.
Bolton was demoted to meeting with a Turkish delegation that did not include the president. National Security Council spokesman said the two sides had a “productive discussion.” The meeting took place at the Presidential Complex in Ankara and lasted around two hours.
Bolton left the Turkish capital on Tuesday, leaving behind Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford and Special Envoy for Syria James Jeffrey.
Turkey announced last month that it was planning a counter-terrorist operation targeting both Turkish and Syrian Kurdish military forces in Syria.