US President Donald Trump says he and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are “very good friends”, however, their meeting at the White House failed to resolve an issue that has badly strained relations. Trump and Erdogan concluded a visit without achieving an agreement on Turkey’s decision earlier this year to accept delivery of a Russian air defence system that poses such a threat to NATO security.
“The acquisition of the S-400 creates some very serious challenges for us,” Trump said.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to resolve that situation.” Despite the differences, Trump said he believes the two sides can substantially increase trade, which amounted to about USD 24 billion in 2017.
“We think we can bring trade up very quickly to about USD 100 billion between our countries,” Trump said.
The leaders' scheduled afternoon news conference, following a meeting with Republican lawmakers at the White House, gave Trump a stage to counter the first public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry. Trump said he was busy and didn't watch a minute of the televised hearings, which he called a hoax.
Turkey is also facing tough relations with the US after its withdrawal from the Syrian Border. Meanwhile, Turkey has agreed to "pause" its military action in Syria launched on October 9 on the condition that Kurdish forces withdrew from an initial 120-kilometre area from the border, following a deal with US Vice President Mike Pense last Thursday. Turkey has, however, repeatedly threatened to restart its offensive, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowing to "crush the heads" of Syrian Kurdish forces if they failed to retreat.
Ankara says the YPG is a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has waged a bloody campaign against the Turkish state since 1984. The Turkish military, together with its proxies in Syria, launched an operation on October 9 to clear YPG forces from areas near its border and create a safe zone to repatriate some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.