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Erdogan to meet Trump in Washington next week despite saying visit was 'on hold'

Turkey's Erdogan will meet President Trump in Washington next week [Turkish Presidency/Anadolu/Getty]

Date of publication: 7 November, 2019

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet President Donald Trump in Washington next week, despite rumours he might cancel the visit.

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan will travel to the United States next week to meet Donald Trump, the Turkish presidency said Wednesday, amid heightened tensions between the two countries.

In a telephone conversation, "the two leaders reconfirmed that they will meet in Washington on Wednesday, November 13, on President Trump's invitation," the Turkish presidency said. 

Erdogan had threatened to cancel his visit due to disputes over the Syrian conflict and the US House of Representatives recognising the mass killing of Armenians a century ago as genocide.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters Monday that the two anti-Turkey bills passed by the US House of Representatives last week "seriously overshadow ties between the two countries" and that Erdogan's visit had been put "on hold".

But Trump issued a tweet Wednesday saying he'd had a "very good call" with Erdogan and would "look forward" to hosting him.

Trump said that during the phone call, they discussed the Syrian-Turkish border, "the eradication of terrorism, the ending of hostilities with the Kurds, and many other topics."

On the call, Erdogan also discussed the detention of the wife of the late Islamic State (IS) group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed during a US raid in Syria.

"He informed me that they have captured numerous ISIS fighters that were reported to have escaped during the conflict - including a wife and sister of terrorist killer al Baghdadi," Trump tweeted, using an acronym for IS.

In his comments, Erdogan took a swipe at the United States, saying "we didn't make a big fuss" about the capture of Baghdadi's wife. 

By contrast, he said, the United States "started a very big communication operation" after Baghdadi's death.

Read more: Turkey sanctions signal Trump's weakness as impeachment looms

The IS leader was killed in a US special forces operation carried out with the help of Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, just across the border from Turkey. 

It came in the wake of a Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish forces, who have been a close ally of the West in the fight against IS, but are viewed as terrorists by Ankara.

Last week, after the US House of Representatives passed a bill recognising the Armenian genocide, it also voted to impose sanctions on Turkey over Ankara's incursion into northeastern Syria that was made possible by the withdrawal of American troops.

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