- U.S. President Barack Obama said he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart in Paris on the sidelines of a climate change conference about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria, while Secretary of State John Kerry has said Erdoğan is “completely committed and ready to proceed” to help guarantee that the remaining portion of the border is closed.
“With respect to Turkey, I have had repeated conversations with President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria” Obama said during a speech delivered at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) HQ in Paris on Dec. 1.
“We've seen some serious progress on that front, but there are still some gaps. In particular, there's about 98 kilometers that are still used as a transit point for foreign fighters and for [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] ISIL to ship out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorist activities” he added.
Stating that the Turkish and U.S. militaries were working together to determine how a combination of air and Turkish ground forces on the Turkish side of the border can do a better job of sealing the border, Obama said that he believed Erdoğan “recognizes that.”
With more than 2 million displaced Syrians living throughout Turkey, Obama said he recognized that Turkey had made an enormous humanitarian effort regarding Syrian refugees.
“That puts enormous strains on their infrastructure, on their housing, on employment. And Turkey has continued to keep those borders open for people in real need,” he said, adding that he was “glad that the EU was looking to do more to help Turkey manage those refugee flows.”