Trump adviser heads to Turkey ahead of Pence to urge cease-fire

Trump adviser heads to Turkey ahead of Pence to urge cease-fire
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National security adviser Robert O'BrienRobert O'BrienOvernight Defense: More COVID-19 cases on USS Theodore Roosevelt | Trump adviser fires back at general over Afghanistan | US blasts Turkey's test of air defense system Trump adviser shoots back at top general: 'I wasn't speculating' on Afghanistan troop levels Overnight Defense: Pentagon IG to audit use of COVID-19 funds on contractors | Dems optimistic on blocking Trump's Germany withdrawal | Obama slams Trump on foreign policy MORE flew to Turkey on Wednesday to meet with Turkish officials in hopes of convincing the country to call off its military offensive against the Kurds in Syria, Reuters reports.

O'Brien's trip highlights the urgency of the situation with the Trump adviser arriving a day before Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTreasury sanctions Iran's ambassador to Iraq Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning House lawmakers call for continued assistance to Lebanon MORE who are set to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday.

O'Brien will meet with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.


The administration is scrambling to contain the fallout after President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE decided to remove the remaining U.S. troops from Syria's northeastern border region, leading to Turkey's military operation against Kurds who fought with the U.S. against ISIS.

Lawmakers from both parties have blasted Trump's decision and the fallout for the Kurds.

Turkey views the Kurdish forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as a terrorist group. Erdoğan is pushing to drive the SDF from the northern region of Syria to create a 20 mile "safe zone."

Congress is working on a deal for sanctions to punish Ankara for the offensive and on Tuesday, Trump unveiled his own economic sanctions on Turkey.

On Tuesday, U.S. prosecutors charged Turkish majority state-owned Halkbank for taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade Iran sanctions.

According to Reuters, Erdoğan told reporters Tuesday, “They say ‘declare a cease-fire.’ We will never declare a cease-fire."

“They are pressuring us to stop the operation," Erdoğan added. "They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions."