Erdogan, Trump announce Washington talks on Nov 13
Donald Trump tweeted saying he'd had a "very good call" with Recep Tayyip Erdogan
AFP, Istanbul :
Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to the United States next week to meet Donald Trump, the Turkish presidency said Wednesday, amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
In a telephone conversation, "the two leaders reconfirmed that they will meet in Washington on Wednesday, November 13, on President Trump's invitation," the Turkish presidency said. Erdogan had threatened to cancel his visit due to disputes over the Syrian conflict and the US House of Representatives recognising the mass killing of Armenians a century ago as genocide.
Trump issued a tweet saying he'd had a "very good call" with Erdogan and would "look forward" to hosting him.
Trump said that during the phone call, they discussed the Syrian-Turkish border, "the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics."
On the call, Erdogan also discussed the detention of the wife of the late Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a US raid in Syria.
"He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict - including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi," Trump tweeted, using an acronym for IS.
In his comments, Erdogan took a swipe at the United States, saying "we didn't make a big fuss" about the capture of Baghdadi's wife.
By contrast, he said, the United States "started a very big communication operation" after Baghdadi's death.
The IS leader was killed in a US special forces operation carried out with the help of Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, just across the border from Turkey. It came in the wake of a Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish forces, who have been a close ally of the West in the fight against IS, but are viewed as terrorists by Ankara.
The United States and NATO have criticized Turkey's purchase of the sophisticated weaponry because of its noncompatibility with the alliance's defense capabilities.
Turkey received its first S-400 batch in July, prompting the United States to kick Turkey off its F-35 fighter jet program. The United States says Russia will be able to acquire sensitive technical details about the new U.S. warplane if it is operated alongside the S-400.
The head of Turkey's Defense Industry Directorate said on November 4 that a second S-400 batch will arrive some time next year.
"We are planning a timeline for next year. As opposed to the first [batch], there is joint production and technology transfer here. It is beyond the 'let's buy it quickly and install it' of the first system," Ismail Demir told broadcaster NTV.
Meanwhile, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday the United States was not fulfilling its pledge to remove a Kurdish militia from a Syrian border region and he will raise the issue when he meets President Donald Trump next week.
A month ago, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive with Syrian rebels against Kurdish YPG fighters and after seizing control of a 120 km (75 miles) swathe of territory reached a deal with the United States to keep them out of that area.
Erdogan is set to discuss implementation of the agreement with Trump in Washington on Nov. 13 after confirming that the visit would go ahead following a phone call between the leaders overnight.
"While we hold these talks, those who promised us that the YPG...would withdraw from here within 120 hours have not achieved this," he told a news conference, referring to a deadline set in last month's agreement.
Turkish officials had previously said Erdogan might call off the U.S. visit in protest at U.S. House of Representatives' votes to recognize mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide and to seek sanctions on Turkey.
After the deal with Washington, Ankara also reached an agreement with Moscow under which the YPG was to withdraw to a depth of 30 km along the entirety of the northeastern Syrian border with Turkey.