Trump Dodges US-Turkey Rows To Focus On Erdogan Friendship
Washington, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 14th Nov, 2019 ) :President Donald Trump on Wednesday sidestepped disputes snaring US relations with fellow NATO member Turkey, instead telling visiting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he is a "fan." On a day when Congress was holding its first nationally televised hearings in the impeachment probe against Trump, the US president spent several hours meeting at the White House with Erdogan and claimed to be paying no attention to his domestic crisis.
"I would much rather focus on peace in the middle East," he told a joint press conference with Erdogan, describing the impeachment as a "hoax" and a "joke." But Trump steered equally clear of controversy over Turkey, which is rapidly becoming one of Washington's most problematic partners in a tinderbox region.
"Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!" Trump wrote.
Despite the letter, Trump's withdrawal of US soldiers effectively gave Turkey a green light to mount what appears to be an extended occupation of a large swath of Syria where ethnic-Kurds had held sway.
"Given this situation, we believe that now is a particularly inappropriate time for President Erdogan to visit the United States, and we urge you to rescind this invitation," a bipartisan group of legislators wrote to Trump last week in a letter made public Monday.
Trump, however, insisted on his close ties to Erdogan, saying: "We have been friends for a long time.
"I'm a big fan of the president," he said.
Washington has excluded Turkey from the F-35 stealth warplane program over the purchase, creating even more tension in the troubled Western alliance. Erdogan has responded by suggesting he could instead buy Russian warplanes as well.
"Hopefully we will be able to resolve that situation," Trump said at the press conference, without further explanation.
Trump -- who needs to maintain Republican loyalty to avoid conviction in the Senate if he as, as expected, impeached by the House of Representatives -- wants to avoid antagonizing lawmakers further. He invited several Republican senators to the White House to meet with Erdogan.
Modern-day Turkey continues to deny the accusation of genocide, saying Armenians were merely among the many other victims of World War I. The vote infuriated Erdogan who said Wednesday that it cast a "deep shadow." - Protesters beaten up - There is tension to spare between the two countries even beyond the fate of the Syrian Kurds and the S-400s.
Washington is angry over the long-term detention of Turkish citizens working for US consulates, while Ankara continues to push hard for the extradition of the Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan claims engineered a failed 2016 coup.