Meeting with Turkish leader and GOP senators gets heated

CBS News 3 weeks ago

An Oval Office meeting with President Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Republican senators took a dicey turn Wednesday afternoon when the conversation turned to Erdogan's conflict with the Kurds, multiple sources tell CBS News. Erdogan brought out an iPad and showed the senators an anti-Kurds video, leading to a heated exchange about the Kurds and his treatment of them. 

Turkey launched an incursion into northern Syria against the Kurds in recent weeks, as the president decided to withdraw U.S. troops from the region after a phone conversation with the authoritarian leader Erdogan. The Oval Office video display, first reported by Axios, did not please the Republican senators, who have expressed deep concerns about Turkey's incursion into Syria and affront against the Kurds. 

The meeting had been officially called by the White House so the key GOP senators — Sens. Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Joni Ernst, Jim Risch and Rick Scott — could help the president convince Erdogan not to buy Russian military equipment and focus instead on purchasing American equipment. There was no resolution in that meeting, one source noted. 

After that meeting in a press conference alongside Erdogan, the president insisted he's a "big fan" of Erdogan, and claimed he thinks Erdogan has a positive relationship with the Kurds. The president in the past has described the Kurds as "not angels," despite the fact that the Kurds are U.S. allies who fought alongside U.S. troops against ISIS. 

"They're not angels. They're not angels. Take a look. You have to go back and take a look," Mr. Trump said last month. 

Graham told Axios after the meeting, "The Turkish narrative that they have done more to destroy ISIS, I rejected forcefully, and I let Turkey know that 10,000 SDF fighters, mostly Kurds, suffered, died or injured, in the fight against ISIS, and America will not forget that and will not abandon them."

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