Abu Dhabi - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he was optimistic that a “good outcome” can be achieved that protects both Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, after speaking to the Turkish foreign minister.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Pompeo also said the withdrawal of US troops from Syria is a “tactical change” and does not alter US military capacity to counter Daesh and Iran.
Pompeo flew in to Abu Dhabi from Manama as part of his ongoing Middle East tour, which Washington says is “critical” to confronting Iran and extremist groups. He visited Amman, Cairo, Baghdad, and the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Arbil prior to arriving in the UAE.
The US State Department said Pompeo’s talks with the UAE leadership would cover “regional and bilateral issues, including ways to expand ties in areas such as trade and investment”.
Pompeo’s trip comes against the backdrop of US President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement last month that the US would begin withdrawing its troops from Syria.
Meanwhile, the US military said it has started pulling equipment, but not troops, out of Syria as a first step in meeting Trump’s demand for a complete military withdrawal.
The Friday announcement fuelled concern about how quickly the US will abandon its Kurdish allies, amid contradictory statements recently by administration officials on an exit timetable.
The withdrawal began with shipments of military equipment, US defence officials said. But in coming weeks, the contingent of about 2,000 troops is expected to depart even as the White House vows to keep pressure on Daesh. Once the troops are gone, the US will have ended three years of organising, arming, advising and providing air cover for Syrian, Kurdish and Arab fighters in an open-ended campaign devised by the Obama administration to deal Daesh a lasting defeat.
Uncertainty over the timing and terms of the Syria pullout have raised questions about the Trump administration’s broader strategy for fighting extremism, including Trump’s stated intention to reduce US forces in Afghanistan this summer.