Trump Hosts Erdogan at the White House: “I’m a Big Fan of the President”

DESPARDES — US President Donald Trump on Wednesday pushed Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to walk away from the purchase of a Russian missile defense system, calling it a “very serious challenge” to bilateral ties, even though he described a meeting between the two leaders as “wonderful”, Reuters reported.

The Foreign Policy (FP) magazine said, “The U.S. president got little in return”.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan got a rare opportunity to address the American public and millions of international viewers, it wasn’t clear that Trump got anything out of it at all, FP wrote.

The meet came just a month after the President Trump withdrew troops from Turkey’s border with Syria, paving the way for a Turkish entry into northern Syria.

“Turkey, as everyone knows, is a great NATO ally and a strategic partner of the United States around the world,” Trump said, thanking Erdogan for his efforts to uphold a cease-fire in northeastern Syria and for Turkey’s “vital contributions” to operations in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State.

“I’m a big fan of the (Turkish) president,” said Trump.

Ragip Soylu, a Turkish journalist, wrote on Twitter that “This is a PR win for Erdogan. World TV channels just broadcasted his remarks uninterruptedly for 15 minutes.”

The Oval Office meeting, which also included a group of high-profile senators including Lindsey Graham, gave both leaders an opportunity to discuss and hash out an agreement on Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system, and a potential $100 billion trade deal. Yet no agreement was reached on either issue.

Meanwhile, the US administration has floated a “workaround” that would involve Turkey agreeing to not activate the S-400, which arrived in Turkey this summer, potentially paving the way for Washington to readmit Ankara to the F-35 fighter jet program. Also on the table is also $100bn trade deal.

Trump said the leaders have asked their deputies to “immediately work on resolving the S-400 issue.”

Meanwhile on Wednesday, the United States hosted a Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA) General Conference in Washington, D.C. MESA is a whole-of-government initiative that works to advance regional stability, security, and prosperity through enhanced multilateral cooperation.

Senior officials from Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and the Gulf Cooperation Council discussed pressing regional events, as well as collaboration on political, security, economic, and energy-related efforts in the Middle East. 

The conference included discussions on the situation in Syria, air defense in the Arabian Peninsula, and a summary of recent multilateral collaboration, including the development of a MESA Counterterrorism Strategy and the formation of the MESA political framework.