Wed, 20 Nov 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump is set to host Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan next week, amid friction between the two NATO-ally countries over actions in Syria and Russian weapons sales to Ankara.

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 previously had warned that he was considering canceling his visit due to disagreements over the Syrian conflict and the recent move by the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize the mass killing of Armenians a century ago as genocide.

Writing on Twitter, Trump described the call with Erdogan as "very good" and said he would "look forward" to hosting him.

During the call, Trump said they discussed the Syrian-Turkish border, fighting terrorism, and ending hostilities with the Kurds, "and many other topics."

Two days after Trump and Erdogan spoke in early October, Turkey on October 9 launched a military offensive in northeastern Syria against mostly Kurdish forces in the area.

Trump meanwhile had started withdrawing U.S. troops in northern Syria while opposing Turkey's move, saying Washington "does not endorse the attack."

Kurdish forces who helped defeat Islamic State fighters in the war-torn country had described the U.S. troop pullout as a 'stab in the back.'

Also on next week's agenda will be the S-400 missile-defense systems that Turkey bought from Russia, a senior State Department official said at a briefing in Washington on November 6.

The United States and NATO have criticized Turkey's purchase of the sophisticated weaponry because of its noncompatibility with the alliance's defense capabilities.

Turkey received its first S-400 batch in July, prompting the United States to kick Turkey off its F-35 fighter jet program.

The United States says Russia will be able to acquire sensitive technical details about the new U.S. warplane if it is operated alongside the S-400.

The head of Turkey's Defense Industry Directorate said on November 4 that a second S-400 batch will arrive some time next year.

"We are planning a timeline for next year. As opposed to the first [batch], there is joint production and technology transfer here. It is beyond the 'let's buy it quickly and install it' of the first system," Ismail Demir told broadcaster NTV.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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