Trump defends Turkey amid fierce backlash over policy shift – POLITICO

Trump also noted that Turkey “is an important member in good standing” of the international NATO military alliance, and revealed that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be “coming to the U.S. as my guest” on Nov. 13. The two leaders had previously been expected to meet in Washington sometime in the coming weeks.

Despite Trump’s praise for Turkey’s contribution to the F-35, the White House on July 17 decided to expel Turkey from the program after Ankara bought and received a Russian air defense system. Washington had warned Turkey for months that the S-400 system was incompatible with the stealth jet.

The president’s ardent defense of the U.S.-Turkey partnership came after the White House late Sunday announced that Trump had spoken by phone with Erdogan about the planned Turkish incursion into northern Syria, which prominent lawmakers of both parties pilloried Monday.

But Trump has so far stood behind the administration’s plan of action, citing his campaign trail pledge to extricate American soldiers from “endless wars” and threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if Erdogan’s government “does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits.”

The president insisted Tuesday that America’s support for its Kurdish allies would continue as U.S. troops withdraw from Syria, and again cautioned Turkey against instigating conflict in the region.

“We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters. Likewise our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good,” Trump tweeted.

“Turkey already has a large Kurdish population and fully … understands that while we only had 50 soldiers remaining in that section of Syria, and they have been removed, any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency,” he added. “We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!”

David Brown contributed to this report.

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