Trump says surprised to hear Erdoğan calling Soleimani a “martyr’’

The United States President Donald Trump said he was surprised to hear that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called Iranian General Qassem Soleimani a "martyr". 

The head of Iran's elite Quds military force and one of the most feared figures in the Islamic Republic was killed early Friday in a U.S. air strike in Baghdad. 

The Iranian Embassy in Turkey tweeted on Sunday that Erdoğan, in a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said: "The absence of martyr Soleimani is deeply upsetting. Iranian people, I am aware of your and Ali Khamenei's anger".

A day later however, TRT World reported that Turkish president hat not referred to the slain Iranian general as a martyr during the phone call, citing an anonymous Turkish official. The Turkish government denied the report with an anonymous official, instead of the very active presidential spokespeople.

The U.S. president spoke on the matter during an Oval Office meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the White House on Tuesday. When a reporter at the Oval Office asked Trump what he thought of Erdoğan’s reference to Soleimani as a"martyr", Trump said, "...to each his own. I disagree 100 percent. I am sure he does, too. But he has a public to take care of. I guess that's for his own reason. I am actually surprised to hear that, but that's okay," Trump added.

Mitsotakis also said his country is interested to purchase new generation F-35 fighter jets. Turkish membership the F-35 coalition was halted last year following the Ankara government went ahead to receive S-400 Russian-made air missile system. 

Trump continued his meeting with threats against Iran.

During the question and answer session from reporters in the same setting, Greek leader also added he looks forward to receiving the U.S. support for "regional peace and security" against the maritime deal between Turkey and Libya. 

Turkey and Libya signed two agreements on security and military cooperation and restriction of marine jurisdictions in November of 2019. 

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.