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Trump and Turkey’s Erdogan Have White House Meeting, Runs Overtime

Nov. 13, 2019 (EIRNS)—The meeting at the White House between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan went about an hour longer than scheduled, but Trump stressed with reporters afterwards that Turkey is a vital ally of America, a vital part of NATO, and is key to U.S. military trade because it buys American equipment through the Foreign Military Sales program and contributes to U.S. defense programs. Trump called Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system a “serious challenge,” which the two Presidents discussed today. He reported that he and Erdogan have agreed that America and Turkish foreign ministers and national security advisers work on resolving the S-400 issue. The U.S.-Turkish alliance can be a force for peace and stability in the world, Trump said.

Erdogan, for his part, called their talks “comprehensive and sincere,” and said that Turkey is determined to open a new page in U.S.-Turkish relations. He said that he and Trump have a mutual understanding on countering terrorism, that Turkey is committed to the Oct. 17 U.S.-Turkish agreement on removing the once U.S.-backed Kurdish YPG militia from the Syrian border—he considers it allied to the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey—but that certain parties are trying to “dynamite” the U.S.-Turkish relationship in this regard. On the F-35/S-400 issue, Erdogan said that “only dialogue can help us overcome this test.” In that context, he said that Turkey is willing to purchase the American Patriot air defense system as long as Turkish conditions are met.

Before turning to take reporters’ questions, Trump stated that five Republican Senators, Jim Risch of Idaho, Ted Cruz of Texas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Rick Scott of Florida, and Joni Ernst of Iowa, attended the meeting with Erdogan by invitation. “We had a frank discussion,” Trump said.

Prior to Erdogan’s arrival at the White House, the Washington Post reported that Trump had sent a letter to the Turkish head of state, last week, proposing that with continued adherence to ceasefire along the Syrian border, sanctions over the S-400 purchase could be avoided and a trade deal between the countries could be agreed upon. This “infuriates” Congressional Democrats says the Post, quoting a particularly vituperative Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland saying that this was “absolutely shameful.”

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