Trump warns of ‘devastating’ sanctions if U.S.-Turkey meeting not successful

Reuters | Oct 16, 2019 at 6:05 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said the United States was "going to try to work it out" with Turkey regarding its assault into northeastern Syrian, but U.S. sanctions would be "devastating" if discussions with Ankara do not go well.

"We're in a great position," Trump told reporters at the White House hours before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence was due to depart for talks in Ankara along with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

"I think they'll have a successful meeting," Trump said at a news conference alongside Italian President Sergio Mattarella. "If they don't, the sanctions, tariffs other things that we're doing - will do and are doing - to Turkey will be devastating to Turkey's economy."

Trump has been on the defensive since his abrupt decision announced last week to withdraw forces from northeastern Syria where they had been supporting Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State.

U.S. lawmakers, including Trump's fellow Republicans, have been fiercely critical of what they see as the president's hasty handling of the situation following Trump's phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

Trump on Wednesday said he did not give Erdogan a "green light" to push into northeastern Syria. The Turkish leader had long been planning such a move, Trump said, adding that he did not want U.S. forces in harm's way.

European allies have also been critical of the move and called on Turkey to halt its military operations.