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Photo: Murat Kaynak/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Sky News Wednesday that he will not meet with Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading a delegation with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Turkey to discuss a ceasefire in northern Syria.

Later, however, Erdogan's communications director walked that refusal back, tweeting that the president "does plan to meet the U.S. delegation led by [Pence] tomorrow."

Sky News' original video:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The tweet from Erdogan's communications director:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Worth noting: Erdogan originally told Sky News that he would only meet with President Trump.

  • He is facing increasing international pressure over his decision to launch an offensive strike against U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.
  • Pence's official schedule still shows that he will depart at 6:00 p.m. ET for Ankara.

Our thought bubble: While Erdogan may be facing international pressure, the offensive and his defiance of the U.S. is clearly playing well domestically right now.

  • Trump administration officials tell Axios they are banking that his position will change if and when Turkey’s economy starts suffering the way it did last time Trump hit the country with sanctions to secure the release of American pastor Andrew Brunson.

Behind the scenes: Trump has gloated to advisers that he broke Erdogan during the Brunson negotiations — that he hit Turkey "so hard" with sanctions and drove its economy down.

  • He told advisers Erdogan initially told him he couldn’t do anything because it was being handled by the Turkish justice system. Trump said he told Erdogan back then, "Bullshit, a justice system. You own the justice system."
  • This time it's harder for Trump, though, because his initial statement effectively cleared the way for Erdogan's invasion.
  • And Trump has doubled down and defended his decision to withdraw the U.S. from northern Syria on the grounds of ending "endless wars." In other words, he’s trying to sanction the cat after he let it out of the bag.

The state of play: Erdogan says he will only agree to a ceasefire when the Kurdish militia, whom he views as a terrorist group, surrenders and leaves the Turkish controlled areas in Syria, reports the Wall Street Journal.

What's next: Erdogan and Trump are set to meet in D.C. next month, but Erdogan told reporters that he is still weighing the visit because he feels the "arguments, debates, conversations being held in Congress regarding my person, my family and my minister friends are a very big disrespect," per Reuters.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has also extended an invitation to Erdogan to visit in the next few days, reports Reuters.

Go deeper: Pelosi and Graham team up to oppose Trump's Syria decision

Editor's note: This story and headline have been updated to include the tweet from Erdogan's communications director.

Go deeper

21 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.