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As U.S.-Turkey meeting begins, Trump praises relation with Erdogan

Kitco News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Wednesday lauded the U.S. relationship with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan as the leaders started a meeting to overcome mounting differences between the two NATO allies ranging from Syria policy to Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system.

Trump’s warm welcome of the Turkish president comes amid anger in the U.S. Congress about Ankara’s Oct. 9 offensive into Syria to drive out a Kurdish militia, Washington’s main partner in the fight against Islamic State.

“We’ve been friends for a long time, almost from Day 1. We understand each others’ country. We understand where we are coming from,” Trump told Erdogan as they sat next to each other in the Oval Office.

“They’re highly respected in their country and in the region,” Trump said of Erdogan and his wife Emine.

He also said they will be discussing Ankara’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system. Trump also added that the two sides would talk about a potential $100-billion trade deal.

Washington and Ankara hit a new crisis point last month over Syria, after Erdogan began a cross-border incursion against America’s Kurdish allies and upended the U.S. presence there.

Earlier this year, the United States was livid over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian missile defense system, which Washington says is not compatible with NATO equipment including its F-35 fighter jet.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk and Lisa Lambert, Editing by Franklin Paul and Alistair Bell

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