Trump conditions good relations with Turkey in resolving S-400 issue- live blog

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U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday it was essential to fix the problems regarding Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence systems before achieving any progress on other issues.

"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," Trump said during his meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, according to a fact sheet released by U.S. Office of Press Secretary.

fact sheet

Washington maintains Russian S-400 air missile systems could compromise U.S. intelligence and allows Russia to gain information about the technology of the F-35 fighter jets. The Trump administration removed Turkey from the U.S.-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme over the purchase and has further threatened sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

But reports earlier revealed that Trump has proposed incentives to  Erdoğan to recover bilateral relations, including a $100 billion trade deal and a workaround to avoid U.S. sanctions.

Turkey is a significant partner for military sales, which total in the billions of dollars, since Ankara is not only a buyer of U.S. military equipment, it is a supplier of parts for several of crucial U.S. and NATO defence programs, according to the U.S. president.

"Turkey is a critical NATO Ally, and our continued cooperation is important for American interests in the region and beyond," Trump said.

The main focus of the meeting was Turkey's purchase of S-400 missiles and its offensive in northeast Syria targetting Syrian Kurdish forces.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched a military offensive in northeast Syria targetting previously U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces and its affiliates three days after Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region, a move seen by critics as an effective green light to Turkey's incursion.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and his delegation on Oct. 17 agreed on a 120-hour ceasefire in Turkey’s military offensive in Syria following a more than four-hour-long negotiations with Erdoğan. Afterwards, Turkey made a deal with Russia for a permanent ceasefire in the region stipulating Kurdish forces to withdraw from a 32-km safe zone south of Turkey’s border.

"The border is holding very well. The ceasefire has been holding very well. We are talking to the Kurds. They seem to be very satisfied," Trump said in White House before his meeting with Erdoğan.

The Turkish offensive against U.S.-backed Kurdish-led groups had brought U.S.-Turkish relations to breaking point and led to chaotic scenes in northeast Syria as competing factions scramble to fill the vacuum left by departing U.S. troops.

And after harsh criticism toward Trump's withdrawal decision, Trump reversed his decision and announced that U.S. forces would stay in northeast Syrian areas controlled by Kurdish groups to secure the oil.

"We are keeping the oil. We are happy about the oil. The oil is secure. We left troops only for the oil," Trump said.

The joint news conference can be followed live here.

02:40 - Meeting with Erdogan was "frank and candid" - Sen Lindsey Graham

One of the five U.S. senators who participated the meeting at the Oval Office between Erdogan and Trump, Senator Graham sent two tweets evaluating the day "The meeting today at the White House was frank, candid, and I hope, over time, will prove to be productive." Senator said, without giving too much hope about the resolution of the issues between two nations.

02:20 - Former U.S. Vice President says Trump's relation with Erdoğan driven by personal interest

Former Vice President Joe Biden said Trump's relationships with Turkey play a role in this attitude toward Erdoğan.

He accused the U.S. president of giving a green light to Turkey's incursion in northeast Syria targetting U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces and criticised him for hosting Erdoğan.

Trump and his family have long had business ties in and with Turkey. The most well-known example of these is Trump Towers in Istanbul, which licenses the Trump name. 

00:45 - Trump says Turkey helps remarkably in fight against ISIS

Trump said the United States eradicated the caliphate of the Islamic State, and Turkey had been supporting the efforts.

"When I became president, ISIS was rampant all over the Middle East. Lindsey, I think we can say we now have 100% of the Caliphate," Trump said. "I will say that Turkey's been helping us a lot."

"Turkey and the United States stand side by side in order to fully eradicate Islamic State," Erdoğan said.

00:30 - Turkey's Russian S-400 purchase brings severe challenges for U.S., Trump says

Trump said Turkey's acquisition of Russian air missile systems created some serious challenges for the United States. 

"We are talking about it constantly," Trump said during the joint press conference with Erdoğan in White House.

Trump also thanked his Turkish counterpart for his partnership and cooperation in an effort to build a more stable Middle East, mainly focusing on the ceasefire deal following Turkey's incursion in northeast Syria.

"I'm a big fan of the president... I know the ceasefire, while complicated, is moving forward and moving forward at a very rapid clip," Trump said.

"We are committed to sustaining a very constructive dialogue with the United States Congress," Erdoğan said.

24:00 - U.S. senator says meeting was to assure that Turkey approaches U.S., not Russia

U.S. Senator Rick Scott said a goal of the meeting is to make sure “Turkey is heading in the direction of the United States, not heading in the direction of Russia."

“We have had the opportunity to focus our strategic partnership,” Erdoğan said. "And of course our indisputable partnership under the auspices of NATO.”

Senator Joni Ernst said Washington sought Turkey to become a committed ally within NATO.

“We do want to remain very dying allies in NATO. We want to
bring you back into that fold," Ernst said.

The main focus of the meeting was Turkey's purchase of S-400 missiles and its offensive in northeast Syria targetting Syrian Kurdish forces.

"I’ve never had an opportunity like this before. I appreciate it. The purpose of this meeting is to have an American civics lesson for our friends in Turkey. And there’s a pony in there somewhere if we can find it,” Senator Lindsey Graham said.

23:55 - Joint press conference is delayed 

The planned joint press conference by Trump and Erdoğan has been delayed over 40 mins regarding the planned time.

The two leaders were to hold several hours of meetings, including lunch, before giving a joint news conference.

23:45 - Heavy accusations against Trump as meeting with Erdoğan continues

Trump said he ignored the impeachment drama which has been unfolding simultaneously in U.S. Congress as he was holding a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Erdoğan at the White House.


23:40 - Erdoğan tells U.S. senators YPG is a terrorist organisation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in responding to questions from senators, told them that what they call Kurds in Syria, Ankara designates as an offshoot of a terrorist organisation, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

“But I assure you the ones that you’re referring to as ‘Kurds' are PYD or YPG. These are terrorist organizations. And they are offshoots of the PKK," Erdoğan said referring to the Syrian Kurdish YPG, which has spearheaded the U.S.-led war on ISIS in the region.

23:35 - U.S. senator says Trump gives being tough on Erdoğan job to senators in meeting
Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said Trump invited Republican Senators Lindsey Graham, Jim Risch, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst and Rick Scott to the meeting with Erdoğan so that he did not have to criticise the Turkish president.

"Let’s be clear - Trump is inviting Republican Senators to meet with Erdogan so he can check the 'I was tough with Erdogan' box without getting tough himself," Murphy said.

Graham and Risch are seeking separate sanctions against Turkey over its military incursion in northeast Syria and purchase of Russian S-400 air defence systems.

"So Erdogan just has to sit through a little light criticism and then it’s back to getting whatever he wants from Trump," Senator said.

23:15 - Explosion reported in military post in Turkey’s southerneastern province of Urfa

A number of ambulances and fire trucks have rushed to the scene of an explosion reportedly in a military command post in Turkey’s southerneastern province of Urfa on the Syrian border, ANKA news agency reported.

23:05 - SDF Commander says Turkish forces attack Tal Tamir amid meeting

The Commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Mazloum Kobani said Turkish forces had lauched attacks in Syria’s Christian town of Tal Tamir as Erdoğan and Trump met.

"The attack caused massive displacement of the residents, in clear violation of the cease-fire agreement,’’Kobani said.

23:01 - Erdoğan begins answering senators questions in Oval Office

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has started answering questions posed by senators at the Oval Office in the White House, T24 news site reported.

The senators said they would grill Erdoğan over an array of issues including the S-400 system and Syria.

22:30 - Demonstrators gather in front of White House

Demonstrators holding flags and signs have gathered protest the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at Lafayette Square park in front of the White House, AP reported.



The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is sharing live footage from the demonstrations on Twitter.

21:57 - Sen. Rick Scott preparing to grill Erdoğan during meeting

Senator Rick Scott, who is set to participate in the meeting with Erdoğan at the White House, shared the questions he will be posing to the Turkish president.  

“It’s clear that Turkey's not acting like an ally. They’re cozying up to Russia while still enjoying the protections of NATO,’’ Scott wrote on Twitter.

22:00 - Trump says satisfied with fight against ISIS

Trump said Turkey had arrested 100 Islamic State (ISIS) militants who escaped Kurdish-controlled prisons and the United States killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the second in command.

“Turkey is watching the ISIS fighters,” Trump said. “The U.S. defeated the Caliphate. Killed Baghdadi and his replacement. The new leader is running for his life.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who accompanied Erdoğan in the Washington visit, will participate in the anti-ISIS Coalition Summit at U.S. State Department on Thursday.

21:55 - Leading senator suggests 10 questions for Erdoğan  

Senator Bob Menendez, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered a speech on the Senate Floor, listing 10 issues that the U.S. President should raise during the Erdoğan meeting.

Calling the meeting a mistake, Menendez said Trump should question Erdoğan on the S-400 air defense system from Russia, Turkey’s majority-state-owned Halkbank, and war crimes in Syria by Turkish-backed forces, among other topics.

21:30 - NBA's Kanter urges Washington to get tough with Erdoğan

Turkish NBA player Enes Kanter penned an article for the Washington Post, calling on the U.S. administration to let Erdoğan know that Washington’s support for Turkey is not unconditional.

The Boston Celtic centre, who is viewed as a fugitive by his own country for his membership of the outlawed Gülen movement, urged Trump “to press Erdoğan to stop cracking down on his political opposition and end his authoritarian abuses of Turkish citizens’’.

Without free nations calling attention to Erdoğan’s awful human rights record, Kanter wrote, Turkey may be hard pressed to move beyond its authoritarian regime.

21:00 - Trump says U.S.-Turkey trade should be increased

Trump said trade volume between the United States and Turkey should expand from $20 billion to $100 billion. 

“Frankly, we’re going to be expanding our trade relationship very significantly. We think we can be doing $100b with Turkey and right now we’re doing about $20b. But we think that number should be easily $100b, which would be great for Turkey and great for us,” he said.

Reports revealed that Trump has proposed a package of incentives to Erdoğan, including a $100 billion trade deal and a workaround to avoid U.S. sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence systems.

“We'll be talking about the S-400s, we’ll be talking about that and we’ll be talking about the F-35 fighter jet," Trump said.

12:00 - Erdoğan protested for babies in Turkish jails, imprisoned journalists

Protestor projected two posters against incarcerated children and jailed journalists across Turkey on the wall of the hotel that Erdoğan has been staying during his visit.