(November 13, 2019 / JNS) U.S. President Trump has offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a package aimed at easing tensions between Ankara and Washington ahead of the latter’s visit to the White House on Wednesday, reported The Washington Post on Tuesday.
In a letter to the Turkish leader last week, Trump offered the chance to work out a $100 billion trade agreement and a workaround to circumvent U.S. sanctions for Turkey purchasing the Russian S-400 missile-defense system, in accordance with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, that the Trump administration has delayed despite kicking Turkey out of the F-35 fighter-jet program.
In exchange, Turkey would have to follow the Oct. 17 agreement to scale back Turkey’s incursion of northeastern Syria that began on Oct. 9 after U.S. forces withdrew from the area in what many called a betrayal of the Kurds, who have helped the United States fight ISIS.
“This visit is an opportunity for full and frank engagement with President Erdoğan to address the challenges facing the United States-Turkey relationship,” a senior administration official told the Post. “The achievement of any bilateral trade goal first requires concrete progress toward resolving major issues, such as Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400.”
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill to enact U.S. sanctions against Turkey for its incursion into northern Syria.
A similar Turkey sanctions bill in U.S. Senate has been introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) have introduced their own legislation to sanction Turkey.
On Tuesday, Van Hollen and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced a resolution condemning Turkey’s crackdown on dissent related to its incursion into northeast Syria and broader freedom of speech violations.
“The Turkish government’s actions raise serious concern that it is using criticism of military operations as a pretext to further crush dissent and inflict fear,” said Blackburn. “Freedom of expression is essential to who we are as a nation. I am hopeful that as President Erdoğan prepares to visit the United States tomorrow, he will feel the weight of the Senate on his shoulders, urging him to fulfill his government’s international obligations to allow free speech as his citizens seek to voice their opposition to the violence occurring at the hands of Turkish Armed Forces.”
“We must be holding President Erdoğan accountable for these abuses, not rolling out the red carpet for a White House visit,” said Van Hollen. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bipartisan resolution.”
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