President Donald Trump announced today that he will receive his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the White House on November 13th.
“He (Erdogan) will come as a guest on November 13th,” the president announced on Twitter.
News about Erdogan’s visit comes as the Turkish army is preparing to launch a military operation in northeastern Syria against Kurdish militias, which Ankara considers terrorist and which were one of Washington’s most faithful allies in the fight against the Islamic State (EI).
In announcing Erdogan’s visit, Trump said the relationship with Turkey, a NATO member and US trading partner, has been “very good”.
“And remember, very importantly, that Turkey is an important member with a good reputation in NATO,” Trump said.
The president also recalled the release in October 2018 of American Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor who faced 35 years in prison in Turkey on charges of espionage and terrorism related to the failed coup d’état of 2016 against Erdogan.
Relations between Ankara and Washington have suffered several ups and downs in recent years, especially since the failed 2016 assault, as Turkey demands the extradition of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdogan blames for the coup d’état and who lives in Pennsylvania.
Trump’s tone for Turkey today was very different from this Monday’s when he said on Twitter: “If Turkey does something (against the Kurds) that I, in my great and unparalleled wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will destroy and annihilate Turkey’s economy altogether”.
On Sunday night, after a telephone conversation with Erdogan, Trump announced in a statement the departure of US troops from northern Syria in the face of Turkey’s imminent military operation. According to the White House, only 50 U.S. troops remain on Syrian soil.
Trump’s decision has provoked criticism from both the Democratic opposition and his own political formation, the Republican Party.