Pence, Erdogan Share Tense Handshake Ahead of Meeting on Syria

A senior U.S. delegation led by Vice President Mike Pence pursued an uphill mission Thursday to persuade Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call for a cease-fire in his fight with Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

Armored SUVs carrying Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien entered the vast Turkish presidency complex in Ankara. Photos released by the Turkish government showed Pence and Erdogan wearing dour expressions as they shook hands before their one-on-one meeting.

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VIDEO from Erdogan, Pence meeting

Pence and Erdogan are stiff.

“Thanks for seeing me” Pence says.

Ambassador Jeffrey addresses Erdogan in Turkish

— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) October 17, 2019

That meeting lasted a little less than an hour and a half. A second meeting with the full delegations was still ahead.

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham offerd a prayer for Pence on Twitter, writing, "As @VP Pence meets with Turkey’s President Erdogan, pray that God will give him favor and that the invasion would be halted and Turkish soldiers would return to their side of the border without any further bloodshed."

The U.S. officials were expected to warn Erdogan that he will face additional economic sanctions if he doesn't halt his assault on Kurdish forces once allied with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group.