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Erdogan, Trump talk amid dispute over arms to Kurd fighters

Associated Press logo Associated Press 30/06/2017 By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump amid tensions over Washington's decision to arm Syrian Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group, a Turkish official said Friday.

Mahir Unal, a spokesman for Erdogan's ruling party, said the two leaders spoke by phone but did not provide details on their discussions. He told reporters, however, that the Turkish leader later also spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Turkey considers the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia group — the People's Protection Units, or YPG — to be terrorists linked to outlawed Kurdish insurgents in its country.

The YPG is the largest group within the Syrian Democratic Forces battling to oust IS from its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa.

Ankara has vowed to intervene if the YPG poses a security threat. This week Turkey's military returned fire in response to a cross-border attack by the group.

Turkey's president stressed the need to "oppose all kinds of terrorist groups," including Kurdish rebels and IS, according to his office.

Earlier, Brett McGurk, the top U.S. envoy for the international coalition against IS, met with Turkish foreign ministry and military officials, a Turkish official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.

McGurk said on Twitter he was holding consultations with Turkey on "mutual efforts to defeat (IS) and ensure it can never return."

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