(November 13, 2019 / JNS) WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump, standing alongside Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, touted at a White House press conference on Wednesday that the relationship between the United States and Turkey, a fellow NATO ally, has “tremendous potential,” even after Turkey’s incursion last month into northern Syria.
Trump expressed confidence that the Oct. 17 ceasefire reached over northern Syria will hold and credited Turkey with cooperating with the United States successfully targeting Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
The president also held out hope for a $100 billion trade deal between Washington and Ankara, saying “our markets are open.”
Meanwhile, Erdoğan reiterated his desire to fight what he has called “terrorists,” including the YPG, and lamented the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passing a resolution recognizing the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
He noted Turkish efforts to combat ISIS, including sending fighters back to their country of origin despite European countries refusing such requests, including from the United States. Erdoğan also said that 2 million “refugees can be repatriated” in northern Syria.
Moreover, he called for a constructive dialogue with Congress over the Russian S-400 and U.S. F-35, reiterating Turkey’s desire to acquire U.S. Patriot missiles. Turkey was dropped earlier this year from the F-35 program for acquiring the Russian missile-defense system.
Each leader took a few questions from the press. Trump was repeatedly asked about Wednesday’s House impeachment inquiry hearings. Additional hearings with other administration officials have been scheduled for Friday, Saturday and next week.
In response to a question, Trump reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the Kurds in northern Syria, as they have been credited with helping the United States fight ISIS.
Erdoğan’s visit wasn’t without protest; demonstrators outside the White House called for Turkey to withdraw from Syria, and accused Erdoğan of supporting terrorists, among other chants.
Additionally, 17 U.S. lawmakers had earlier called for the visit to be scrapped.
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