Trump, Erdoğan to meet in Washington in May: Turkish FM

Trump, Erdoğan to meet in Washington in May: Turkish FM

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Trump, Erdoğan to meet in Washington in May: Turkish FM U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet in Washington in May ahead of a NATO summit, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has said. 

“Mr. Trump called our president to congratulate him on the referendum results. They discussed bilateral relations and have agreed to meet in Washington. We, as foreign ministers, will determine the appropriate dates for the meeting,” Çavuşoğlu said at a press conference in Ankara on April 19. 

Çavuşoğlu said the two leaders had agreed to come together before a NATO summit that will take place in late May in Brussels.

Çavuşoğlu spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson late April 18 after Trump and Erdoğan’s phone call. After Erdogan’s narrow win in the referendum to implement an executive presidency, Trump congratulated the Turkish leader in a phone call on April 17, in contrast to the muted reaction of European leaders to the result, which has been challenged by the opposition.

The two leaders are likely to meet in Washington within the first half of May, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News. 

Çavuşoğlu also said the U.S. had not decided on whether to launch a Raqqa offensive in Raqqa aiming to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with Syrian Kurdish militia. 

Turkey proposes use of SDF for liberation of Raqqa 

In his phone conversation with Trump, Erdoğan reiterated Turkey’s rhetoric against U.S. cooperation with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), while claiming that Syrian Kurdish militia have enforced demographic changes in regions they have captured and would do so again if they entered Raqqa province, the Turkish official told the Daily News on condition of anonymity.

The official reiterated a proposal Turkey made to the U.S. during a visit by Tillerson to Ankara last month which called for the liberation of Raqqa operation by other elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that excluded YPG fighters.

Turkey and the U.S. are at odds over the status of the YPG. Although Turkey has constantly attempted to designate the group as terrorists, the U.S. sees the YPG as effective partners on the ground in their fight against ISIL.