Turkey PM Yıldırım met only by critic on first day in DC

WASHINGTON, DC - The only U.S. official to meet Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on the first day of his visit to Washington was one of Turkey’s toughest critics.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker only last month asked his committee to recommend sanctions on Turkey over its deal to buy anti-aircraft missiles from Russia.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Corker said at that time, “has not only domestically acted against journalists, opposition leaders and innocent Americans, he has rebuffed allies internationally … We need Turkey working with us, not against us.”

In the wake of the 2016 failed coup, Corker also expressed concerns that Turkey was becoming more authoritarian and less secular.

Yıldırım had been due to meet Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday, but the meeting was postponed for Pence to attend the funeral of those killed at a mass shooting at a Texas church.

"It was very frank both ways, and I appreciated the opportunity to talk with him,” Corker told reporters after the meeting. Corker also said, "We talked about some a lot of very broad issues and we also talked about some very specific issues." According to AA, Corker stated, "Turkey is a beautiful country. So much progress has been made for so many years. But recently, at least in the last five years, maybe in the last decades, things have curved and taken us backwards."