Trump: US, Turkish National Security Teams Will 'Immediately' Work to Solve S-400 Issue

Trump: US, Turkish National Security Teams Will 'Immediately' Work to Solve S-400 Issue AP Photo / Presidential Press Service

The two world leaders come together amid the continuing tensions in Syria and the heightened pressure between the two states. Washington has continually expressed frustration over Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems and Ankara was disappointed by the US Congress' recognition of the Armenian genocide.

US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a press conference on Wednesday following their meeting in the US capital.

The agenda of the talks is the situation in Syria, as well as trade issues and combatting terrorism. Earlier, Trump stressed that the S-400 and F-35 jet program would top the agenda of his meeting with Erdogan.

During the presser, Trump said that the US and Turkish national security teams will start working on solving S-400 issue.

After his visit to the United States, Erdogan plans to hold talks on Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Erdogan was asked a question about his attitude with regards to Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish preacher and leader of the Gülenist movement, which the Turkish government regards as a terrorist group and which Erdogan holds responsible for the 2016 attempted coup d'etat against him. Gülen has lived in Pennsylvania since 1999.

“We sent the terrorists back for them and I’m sure they will do the same for us," Erdogan said.

Trump told reporters that while Turkey has spent $40 billion repatriating Syrian war refugees, Europe has spent only roughly $3 billion and needs to increase its efforts.

Trump noted that Turkish acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system "creates some very serious challenges for us ... We've asked our secretary of state and minister of foreign affairs and our respective national security advisers to immediately work on resolving the S-400 issue."

The Turkish President noted that "we have clearly stated to Trump that under suitable circumstances, we could acquire Patriot missiles as well," and that "we are ready and committed to sustain a very constructive dialogue" with US lawmakers.

Several questions from reporters centered on the impeachment inquiry and Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Trump said he would release the transcript of the call on Thursday, but said he doesn't remember a call to US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland that Sondland mentioned in testimony before Congress.

When asked about the letter sent by Trump telling him "don't be a tough guy" and urging him not to invade northeastern Syria last month, Erdogan said he'd brought the letter with him on the present trip and returned it to Trump, saying the intermediary used for the message was inappropriate.

“'It happened to us today and it will happen to someone else tomorrow' is a saying in our language," Erdogan told reporters, saying he doesn't understand why this happens when people talk about fighting terrorism on a global scale.

One reporter asked the two heads of state about their attitude toward the Kurds.

“We’ve had a great relationship with the Kurds," Trump said, noting they had "fought together" against Daesh and that the Daesh captives who escaped during the Turkish attack last month were all recaptured by Turkish forces.

Erdogan made a distinction between have problems with the Kurdish people and having problems with terrorism.

“We’re just fighting terrorists, period. Because terrorists don’t have an ethnicity," he said, noting they have no quarrel with Kurds in other countries, such as Iraq and Syria, and that his own political party has dozens of Kurdish MPs.

Erdogan further blasted a retaliatory measure taken by the US House of Representatives, following the Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria, to recognize the Armenian genocide carried out by the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the closing days of World War I. He said his country was "hurt deeply" by the move, which had the potential to cast a "deep shadow over our bilateral relations."

The Turkish President promised to submit additional documents to the US government proving that the Gulen movement, or FETO, is a terrorist organization.

"During this current visit we are going to submit, as we already have actually, a great deal of documents and evidence that FETO is a terrorist organization. They have killed 251 people in Turkey. They tried to undertake a coup against the government, the state and more than 2,000 people have been injured".