A meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his United States counterpart Donald Trump has resulted in no tangible agreements.
However, the meeting between the two leaders was described as “wonderful” by Trump.
According to a report by Reuters on Wednesday, the much-anticipated meeting to address a crisis in US-Turkey relations ended with no real solutions found to strengthen bilateral ties.
This is despite Trump’s comments on Wednesday that he was “a great fan” of the Turkish leader and that they had a “productive” encounter, where both have boasted of having a warm personal relationship. However, relations between their governments are largely strained.
During the joint press conference held after their meeting, both leaders failed to explain exactly how they plan to overcome the differences they have on numerous issues that include Turkey’s incursion in Syria against America’s Kurdish allies and the purchase of the Russian S-400 system, Reuters said.
“In order to achieve progress on other fronts, it is vital that we resolve the issues involving Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, strengthening our defense partnership,” the White House said in a statement released after the conference.
“Turkey’s acquisition of sophisticated Russian military equipment … creates some very serious challenges for us. … We talked about it today, we’re talking about it in the future, hopefully, we’ll be able to resolve that situation,” Trump said referring to the issue.
Washington argues that Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400s poses a threat to its F-35 stealth fighter jet Lockheed Martin is developing and is not compatible with NATO defenses.
The US has banned sales of F-35s to Turkey and removed the country from a multinational program to produce the warplane as punishment after it started receiving its first S-400 deliveries in July.
Without stating in detail how they will do it, both Erdogan and Trump on Wednesday promised to work to resolve the issue.
The US President indicated that they have asked the US secretary of state and minister of foreign affairs and their respective national security advisers to “immediately work on resolving the S-400 issue.”
Erdogan suggested the dispute can only be overcome through dialogue.
Although the bilateral relations hit a fresh low last month, when Erdogan launched his cross-border incursion against the Syrian Kurds, Trump on Wednesday gave a warm welcome to the Turkish president.
“We’ve been friends for a long time, almost from day one. We understand each others’ country,” Trump told Erdogan as they sat next to each other in the Oval Office at the White House.
This was in stark contrast to anger in the US Congress over Ankara’s military operation aiming to drive out a Kurdish militia that has been the main ally of Washington in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).
President Trump faced bipartisan criticism for withdrawing US troops and paving the way for Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria, which began on October 9.
Erdogan on Wednesday noted that his country was “the most reliable US partner in the region” that Washington can work together “to finish ISIS and bring peace to Syria.”
The leader also said in a speech later in DC that he asked Trump to end his support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara views as a terrorist organization due to its links to the Kurdish separatists at home.
Erdogan reportedly did not mention how Trump responded to his demand.
The Hill said in a report on Wednesday that the Turkish leader also dismissed during the press conference questions regarding the reason why he ignored Trump’s letter demanding him to call off his incursion into northern Syria.
In an unusually colloquial letter addressed to Erdogan in October, Trump told the Turkish president not to be a “fool” or a “tough guy.”
“You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will,” he added.
Avoiding answering the question directly, Erdogan only said on Wednesday that they gave the letter that they have received back to Trump.
The US leader also stated in Wednesday’s joint press conference that he believes Erdogan has “a great relationship with the Kurds.”
“Many Kurds live currently in Turkey, and they’re happy and taken care of, including health care and education and other things,” Trump added.
His comments on the issue came less than a month after Ankara agreed to halt its attacks against Kurdish forces in northern Syria in order to have them exit the area as part of a deal reached with senior US representatives.
“Turkey will continue to uphold what it’s supposed to uphold. I know the ceasefire, while complicated, is moving forward at a very rapid clip,” Trump emphasized on Wednesday.