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Erdogan holds difficult talks with EU chiefs in Brussels

The refugee crisis was at the top of the agenda as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with European Union chiefs in Brussels. Erdogan also said the Syrian Kurdish PYD remained a terrorist organization.

During talks on Monday, Erdogan called on the EU to do more to train rebels, set up a protected zone inside northern Syria and to enforce a no-fly zone to end bombing of civilians.

"The root cause of the refugee crisis today

is the war in Syria

," Erdogan said.

Turkey currently hosts around 2 million refugees, many of whom have fled from Syria and Iraq.

Head of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, also told reporters that he and Erdogan had discussed Ankara's controversial plan for a safe zone cleared of "Islamic State" ("IS") fighters in northern Syria.

"The European Union is ready to take up all issues with Turkey so we also discussed a possible buffer zone in Syria," Tusk said.

Ahead of Monday's talks, European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said that the EU wanted to "have a contract of mutual confidence that is necessary, given the central role Turkey has played in the refugee crisis."

PYD 'a terrorist organization'

During the live broadcast on Monday, Erdogan also branded the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party's (PYD) as a terrorist organization, arguing that their participation in the fight against "Islamic State" militants did not give the group legitimacy.

The PYD, which is backed by the US in the campaign against "IS," is collaborating with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Erdogan said on Monday.

The PKK, which seeks greater autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish minority, has waged a war there since 1984. Turkey, the European Union and the United States all list the PKK as a terrorist organization. Ankara launched airstrikes against the PKK in July, in effect ending what had been a fragile two-year truce.

ksb/se (AFP, Reuters)

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