WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 08th November, 2019) US Special Representative for Syria Engagement James Jeffrey starts Friday a two-day trip to Turkey to discuss a ceasefire in Syria's northeast and broader international efforts to resolve the conflict just days ahead of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's fence-mending visit to Washington.
"Ambassador Jeffrey is leading an interagency delegation to discuss issues of mutual concern to include, the current situation in northeast Syria, implementation of UNSCR 2254 on the resolution of the Syrian conflict, and our continued efforts to ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS [terrorist organization banned in Russia]," the State Department announced this week.
Briefing reporters before the visit, the senior American diplomat voiced concerns over sporadic shelling and shootings in the area of the Turkish military operation against Kurdish militias in northeast Syria and promised to watch closely how the truce accords are implemented.
The United States and Turkey agreed on a ceasefire to allow Kurds to withdraw. A separate agreement between Turkey and Russia instituted joint patrols to prevent the resumption of hostilities. The United States itself retains control over Syrian oil fields and has pledged to make sure they benefit local Kurds, frustrated by Americans' abrupt pullback in the face of the Turkish offensive.
The State Department official praised as "a victory" the recent launch of the Syrian Constitutional Committee (SCC) - another topic on Jeffrey's agenda.
The SCC had its opening session in Geneva on October 30. A 150-member body with equal representation of the Syrian government, opposition and civil society, is tasked with drafting the country's new constitution.
Jeffrey's trip to Turkey precedes Erdogan's visit to Washington, scheduled for November 13 and seen as an opportunity to overcome tensions, caused inter alia by Turkey's rapprochement with Russia and its campaign in Syria.
Erdogan promised on Thursday not to circumvent hard issues and discuss with his US counterpart Donald Trump the recent purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems which made it problematic for Turkey to participate in the American-sponsored F-35 fifth generation fighter program.