Trump: I'm a fan of Erdogan

Trump downplays tensions with Turkey during meeting with Erdogan. "We have been friends for a long time."

Ben Ariel,

Erdogan and Trump meet in Washington on November 13, 2019
Erdogan and Trump meet in Washington on November 13, 2019
Reuters

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday sidestepped the recent rows with Turkey, instead telling visiting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he is a "fan."

"I would much rather focus on peace in the Middle East," he told a joint press conference with Erdogan, according to AFP, describing the impeachment process against him as a "hoax" and a "joke."

Trump was defiant over his close ties to Erdogan, saying, "We have been friends for a long time."

"I'm a big fan of the president," he doubled down.

US-Turkey ties have been strained in recent weeks in the wake of Turkey’s cross-border assault against Kurdish fighters in Syria which Ankara views as terrorists but which are allies of the US.

The operation was launched three days after Trump’s announcement of a withdrawal of US forces in northeastern Syria, leading to some accusations that Trump’s move was an authorization for Turkey to invade the region.

While Trump defended his administration’s plans to withdraw US forces from northern Syria, he also made clear that the US would not allow Turkey to do anything inhumane in Syria.

During the operation, Trump sent an undiplomatic letter to Erdogan urging him to avoid too much bloodshed.

"Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" Trump wrote in the letter, which was reportedly thrown by Erdogan into the trash.

There was no indication of major progress on any of the growing disputes between the two countries after the Trump-Erdogan get-together on Wednesday.

On top of the Syria mess, Turkey's role in NATO is under question following Erdogan's decision to buy the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.

Washington reacted to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 by removing the country off its F-35 fighter jet program.

"Hopefully we will be able to resolve that situation," Trump said at the press conference on Wednesday, without further explanation.




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