Pence, Pompeo arrive in Turkey to meet Erdogan

Pence, Pompeo arrive in Turkey to meet Erdogan

Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have arrived in Turkey to mount an improbable push for a cease-fire in Syria.

Their visit to Ankara on Thursday to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan comes a day after President Donald Trump suggested the U.S. has no stake in defending Kurdish fighters once allied against the Islamic State group.

The high-level U.S. delegation is to warn Erdogan that Washington will escalate economic sanctions if his assault on Kurdish fighters continues. But the Turkish leader has said he would only agree to a cease-fire if Kurdish forces abandon key positions in Syria.

U.S. officials acknowledge the odds are slim for an immediate halt to the weeklong conflict. The visit comes as Trump faces bipartisan condemnation in Washington for withdrawing American troops from northern Syria, which paved the way for the Turkish incursion.

A senior U.S. delegation on its way to Turkey is facing a herculean task — to pressure Turkish officials to accept a cease-fire in Northern Syria just hours after President Donald Trump declared the U.S. has no stake in defending its Kurdish allies.

Vice President Mike Pence is heading a U.S. delegation that includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien. They are set to arrive in Turkey Thursday afternoon, a day after Trump dismissed the very crisis he sent his aides on an emergency mission to douse.

Trump suggested Wednesday that a Kurdish group was a greater terror threat than Islamic State militants. He also welcomed the efforts of Russia and the Assad government to fill the void left by the U.S. withdrawal.