Friday, 16 November, 2018

Trump, Turkish leader hail ties despite US arming of Kurds

Ellis Copeland | 17 May, 2017, 14:17

"Today we face a new enemy in the fight against terrorism", Trump declared.

"We are committed to fighting all kinds of terrorism, without any discrimination whatsoever, that impose a clear and present threat upon our future".

Erdogan, according to a simultaneous translation of his remarks, predicted the visit "will mark a historical turn of tide" for the relationship, at times fraught under the previous administration, and said that it is one "erected upon common democratic values and common interests". Turkey considers these militias as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party called People's Protection Units, which has been labeled as a terrorist group by Europe, Turkey and the U.S.

The violence erupted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with President Trump at the White House.

The spokesman, officer Hugh Carew, said the origin of the melee was still under investigation.

City police reinforcements restored order, but emergency services said nine people were injured and taken to hospital, one of them in critical condition. A senior European intelligence official told The Associated Press his country might withhold information from the US if it confirms Trump shared classified details with Russian Federation.

"This decision was probably necessary if the coalition to defeat the Islamic State was to take Raqqa without huge numbers of USA troops being directly involved", former top Pentagon Middle East policy official Andrew Exum told The New York Times in the wake of the decision.

Erdogan called the decision to provide US arms "contrary to our strategic relations to the U.S".

The Washington Post reported Erdogan was not at the embassy when the fight broke out and is staying at Blair House across from the White House during his visit.

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Ankara regards the YPG as simply the Syrian arm of the "terrorist" PKK, which has waged a deadly insurgency inside Turkey since 1984, and Erdogan is anxious his deadly enemy will find itself in charge of a US-armed statelet on his southern frontier.

Such groups will "have no safe quarter", Trump said in the White House's historic Roosevelt Room, where he also commended Turkey's "leadership in seeking an end to the horrific killing in Syria".

The United States sees the YPG as distinct from the PKK and as a valuable partner in the fight against IS.

In parallel with Erdogan's visit to Washington and few hours before his meeting with Trump, a number of U.S. congressmen signed an open letter, calling on Trump to oppose the extradition of Gulen, as no legal evidence was established regarding his role in the failed coup attempt.

During his joint press conference with Trump, Erdogan stressed that militant groups like the PKK and YPG "will never be accepted".

Erdogan also wants the United States to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a political opponent and cleric living in Pennsylvania whom the Erdogan government blames for an attempted coup last July.

About 47,000 people have been arrested for alleged links to the coup, while 100,000 people suspected of association to Gulen's movement have been fired from government jobs.

The relationship between the two nations is further strained by the United States refusing to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric now living in Pennsylvania.

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