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Erdogan declares a proposal for joint management of the oil fields in Deir ez-Zor, Syria with Russia


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The United States decided to "secure" the oil-rich regions of eastern Syria at the end of last year after removing its troops from the border with Turkey, causing international condemnation and accusing Washington of actions of violating international laws against looting.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he proposed joint management of oil fields in eastern Syria to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and suggested that Russia and Turkey could manage the oil fields instead "terrorists" who currently control them.

Talking to journalistsErdogan said on his return flight from Brussels on Tuesday that Putin was evaluating the offer, which the Turkish president said he made during talks in Moscow last week. Erdogan added that he could make a similar proposal to US President Donald Trump.

"Deir ez-Zor is another territory with oil reserves. In this province, terrorists are exploiting oil resources. America has its own plans here," said Erdogan, recalling the conversation. "I made an offer to Mr. Putin that if he gives financial support, we can do the construction and thanks to the oil obtained there, we can help the destroyed Syria to recover on foot ", he added.

"If such a step can be taken here, I can even make the same offer to Trump," said Erdogan.

Moscow has not yet commented on the veracity of the Turkish President's memories of his talks with Putin.

However, on previous occasions, Russian officials have repeatedly criticized any country's efforts to violate Syria's territorial integrity or plunder its resources. In November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of trying to separate the oil-rich territories from eastern Syria to create an illegal quasi-state. A month before that, the Russian military released detailed information implicating the United States in a major oil smuggling operation involving the CIA, the United States military, private contractors and Kurdish militias.

Erdogan did not specify which "terrorists" he was referring to, but Turkey is known to classify the militias of the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units as terrorists linked to the Workers' Party of Turkish Kurdistan, a militia that has been conducting a low-intensity guerrilla campaign against Ankara since the 1980s.

In his comments to reporters, Erdogan also commented on Ankara's demand for US Patriot missile systems and the lingering tensions between Ankara and Washington over Turkey's decision to buy S-400 missile systems Russian made.

"We made this offer in the United States on the Patriot: if you're going to give us patriots, do it. We can also buy you patriots," said Erdogan. "They have also softened a lot on this S-400 problem. They are now about to promise us that you will not make the S-400 operational," he added.

Earlier, Turkish officials said they plan to make their S-400 operational by April.

AP Photo / Turkish Ministry of Defense

Military officials work around a Russian transport aircraft, carrying parts of the S-400 air defense systems, after landing at Murted Military Airport, outside of Murted Ankara

Erdogan and Putin met last Thursday in Moscow to discuss the crisis in Idlib, in the northwest province of Syria, where Turkish and Syrian troops fought a gunshot war in February during a Syrian army operation against Turkish-backed jihadist militias. The parties have agreed to a ceasefire, although Turkish officials, including President Erdogan, have since threatened to resume their offensive if the deal is broken.

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