Trump, Erdogan hold phone call ahead of US-Turkey military meeting

President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE on Thursday spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about strategy in Syria ahead of a meeting between the top military leaders from each country.

The two men spoke over the phone about the creation of a possible safe zone in Syria, the White House said. The Trump administration said it will pull U.S. troops out of the war-torn country, and has sought assurances from Turkey that it will not attack Kurdish fighters in the region.

Turkish state media said Trump and Erdoğan agreed to see through the U.S. withdrawal from Syria in a way that benefits both countries. The two sides also discussed trade.

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Thursday's phone call came as Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford are set to host their Turkish counterparts this week in Washington, D.C.

Trump earlier this month nominated David Satterfield to be the U.S. ambassador to Turkey and fill a previously vacant post.

U.S.-Turkey relations have drawn heightened attention after Trump announced in December that the U.S. would withdraw its troops from Syria.

The administration has since put conditions on a full withdrawal of troops, including the total defeat of ISIS and assurances from Turkey that it will not target U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria.

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

Trump later threatened to “devastate Turkey economically” if the country's forces went after the Kurds in Syria.