Published: Wed, May 17, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

Turkish Leader Visits Trump Looking For "New Beginning" With US Despite Obstacles

Turkish Leader Visits Trump Looking For

President Trump hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington on Tuesday.

In his first speech to the staff of the State Department, Trump's Secretary of State Rex Tillerson diverged from forty years of bipartisan consensus on human rights as a core USA value and famously described this tradition as "an obstacle" to advancing "our national security interests, our economic interests".

Constitutional amendments narrowly approved in the referendum switched the once mostly ceremonial post Erdogan holds into the center of power in the Turkish government.

CORNISH: What are you going to be looking for out of this meeting that will signal the direction that the U.S. -Turkey relationship is going in? "The media and press freedoms have been placed under government control". "We can come unexpectedly in the night..." he said on April 30.

Turkish officials had hoped for a "new page" after the bickering with Mr Obama, but the Trump administration's announcement that the USA would arm the Syrian Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) - which Ankara views as terrorists - put a damper on such optimism.

Both prosecutions are seen as bargaining chips for Turkey's broader gambit of shaping USA diplomacy in Raqqa, a city just over the Syrian border that the Islamic State group has made its capital.

Erdogan is expected to call on the Trump administration to reduce cooperation with the Kurdish YPG and renew demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a USA -based cleric whom the Turkish president accuses of masterminding last year's failed coup. Erdogan may be persuaded not to act as a spoiler in Syria if Trump gives him a green light in Iraq. He had not been briefed on it according to the national security advisor. President Trump's skills as a dealmaker will never be more in demand as in the meeting with Erdogan.

And despite anger at recent US policies, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will now make his way stateside.

Last month, the Turkish military bombed Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq, in one case with American forces only about six miles away.

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Erdogan believes Gulen was behind a failed military coup in July last year, but the United States has said there is not enough evidence to send the 76-year-old Muslim cleric back to Turkey.

The YPG is the name of the Kurdish militia in Syria.

USA prosecutors say the 2013 charges pertained to a massive bribery scheme executed by Zarrab involving the payment of tens of millions of dollars to Cabinet-level Turkish officials and high-level bank officers in Turkey to facilitate Zarrab's transactions on behalf of Iran.

"Washington, on the other hand, has made it amply clear that Turkey's demands are unlikely to be met because the US has firm positions, or obstacles it can't overcome, that make it very hard to please Ankara", Idiz said.

Ahead of the meeting, Trump defended his decision to share "facts pertaining to terrorism" and airline safety with Russian Federation, saying in a pair of tweets he has "an absolute right" as president to do so.

Ahmet S. Yayla, a George Mason University professor and former Turkish prosecutor, wrote in Modern Diplomacy this week that Erdogan wants the USA case against Zarrab dropped because his government was involved in the scheme to help Iran circumvent sanctions.

Washington is concerned by rising anti-Americanism in Turkey that Erdogan's government has tolerated since the July coup attempt.

"Both our countries are committed to fight all forms of terrorism", Erdogan stated. "I don't think we have anything to lose in this meeting".

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