Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday a “fresh page” in troubled relations between Ankara and Washington can be opened with US President Donald Trump at a meeting next month, as high-level dialogue has intensified since January.
Speaking in Istanbul Friday, Erdogan said he sees “signs that Mr. Trump will exhibit a more decisive stance than the previous administration in terms of combatting terror.”
The summit between Erdogan and Trump in Washington on May 16 will be their first face-to-face encounter as heads of state and a chance to progress a relationship that became mired in a series of disputes under former president Barack Obama.
“There are still sensitive aspects in our bilateral relations that we want to bring to the position we are looking for,” Erdogan told the Atlantic Council Istanbul summit.
“We expect our American friends to better understand the threats our country is facing and to show the solidarity that we need,” he said.
Erdogan repeated his criticism of the US alliance with Syrian Kurdish militias that Turkey deems “terrorists.”
He made clear he expected a turnaround from the Trump administration on the use of the Syrian Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG) as the chief US ally on the ground in Syria in the battle against ISIS.
He said giving the Kurds concrete support “is damaging the spirit of alliance and partnership.”
“Now Turkey, the Free Syrian Army, along with the coalition led by America, can clear these 2,500-5,000 terrorists. It’s not difficult for us and we would succeed,” The Turkish president added.
His comments came after Turkey angered the US this week by bombing YPG positions in Syria. There have also been successive clashes between the Turkish army and the YPG over the border in the last days.
Erdogan praised Trump for showing a “more determined” approach than Obama against the regime of Bashar al-Assad after the air strikes this month that followed a suspected chemical attack.
“It was late coming but something that we welcomed,” he said of the US air strikes. “The Assad regime has seen for the first time in six years that there will be no silence to the massacre of innocents.”