Turkey's Erdogan rips Bolton's comments on Kurds, refuses to meet

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Tuesday ripped national security advisor John Bolton's comments on Kurdish forces in Syria, calling the remarks a "serious mistake." 

Erdoğan also declined to meet with Bolton in Ankara, as had been expected.


"We cannot accept Bolton’s messages given from Israel,” Erdoğan said, CNBC reported.

Bolton said Sunday that U.S. forces would not leave Syria until the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is fully defeated and the Trump administration receives assurances that U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters would be protected. 

U.S. support for the Kurds in Syria has been a point of tension in U.S.-Turkey relations, as the Turkey views the fighters as a terrorist group.

Bolton met with officials at Ankara’s presidential complex on Monday, but Turkey declined to assure him that the Syrian Kurds would remain safe, The Associated Press reported.

“We cannot make any concessions,” Erdoğan said, according to the AP.

Turkey has been threatening a military offensive against the Kurds in Syria for months.

Bolton and Erdoğan were set to meet over the weekend, but the Turkish president reportedly declined due to Bolton's stated defense of the Kurds.

Bolton during a visit to Israel over the weekend said that there is no concrete timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria, contradicting Trump's unexpected announcement last month that Syrian troops would be pulled out "now." Bolton said U.S. forces "won't be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone."

Trump in a tweet on Monday said the troop drawdown in Syria is "no different from my original statements."

"We will be leaving at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS and doing all else that is prudent and necessary!" Trump tweeted.