WHITE HOUSE - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will head a high-level delegation to Turkey to press that country's president to halt his invasion of northeast Syria, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday.
"Mike is heading it up with Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo. They'll be leaving tomorrow," Trump said at an event in the White House Rose Garden. "We're asking for a cease-fire. We've put the strongest sanctions that you can imagine. We have a lot in store if they don't have an impact, including massive tariffs on steel."
Also joining the delegation to Ankara, which on Thursday is to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be national security adviser Robert O'Brien and Ambassador James Jeffrey, who is the special envoy for Syria engagement and the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State group.
Pence will voice the U.S. commitment "to reach an immediate cease-fire and the conditions for a negotiated settlement," according to a White House statement.
During the meeting, the vice president also will reiterate Trump's "commitment to maintain punishing economic sanctions on Turkey until a resolution is reached," the statement said.
"Goal number one is to carry out diplomacy to try to find a cease-fire. Get the situation under control. It's very, very confusing. It's dangerous for our troops. It's placing the fight against ISIS [Islamic State] at risk. It's placing at risk the safe imprisonment of almost 10,000 detainees," a State Department official said earlier Tuesday.
The official noted there had not been "any major successful breakout so far of detainees," referring to imprisoned IS fighters and their families. Syrian Kurdish officials have said hundreds of suspected IS prisoners have escaped.
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