President of Turkey Visits Washington ~ THE HAIPHONG POST - Breaking News of World

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

President of Turkey Visits Washington

Syria, according to a report by Foreign Policy magazine. One dinner attendee recounted Erdogan's stance on Kurdish fighters as terrorists are terrorists -- there are no good ones. President Obama is not expected to meet with Erdogan while the Turkish leader is in Washington, though the White House said Thursday that Mr. Obama would have some kind of conversation with Erdogan later.


On security matters, however, Erdogan and Obama are closer. Turkey supports a U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State and backs Obama's call for new leadership in Syria to end the five-year civil war. Erdogan was to arrive Tuesday evening and hopes to meet with Obama at some point during his visit, said Fatih Oke, spokesman for the Turkish Embassy in Washington. Earnest said Monday that Obama and Erdogan met several times in recent months, including at the Paris climate summit in November, and both leaders will attend the nuclear security summit Thursday and Friday. We've got a lot of important business with the Turks to do, and we've made important progress through that diplomacy, Earnest said.

Erdogan, who has pushed his majority Muslim nation away from its traditionally secular culture to a more religious one, has been severely critical of the West. After the Paris terrorist attacks in November, Erdogan called European leaders hypocrites for not taking a stronger stand against anti-Muslim hate speech and attacks on mosques. He also has called for the West to do more to help Turkey deal with millions of refugees from Syria's civil war. There obviously is a lot of important work to do with our allies in Turkey, Earnest said Tuesday. First and foremost, that involves standing with them as they confront the kind of terrorism that they've seen inside their borders all too often in recent weeks. But that also includes continuing to intensify our coordination on key aspects of our strategy, including ramped-up efforts to secure the Turkey and Syria border. Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations said that despite outward unity in the fight against the Islamic State, Turkey and the United States are still grappling with profound differences.

Turkey has wanted the United States to do more to oust the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, but Obama has been hesitant to commit too much to that goal. The United State also relies heavily on Kurdish fighters in Syria to take on the Islamic State, whereas Turkey accuses those fighters of links to Kurdish separatists on its soil. The Turkish and American relationship is strong enough to resolve differences through dialogue. Erdogan took questions including some by moderator Martin Indyk about press freedom in Turkey and Erdogan's frequent use of a law against insulting the president. The country's justice minister recently said that as many as 1,845 cases have been opened against people accused of insulting Erdogan. Critics say Erdogan has been aggressively using the law to muzzle dissent. Those who have gone on trial include celebrities, journalists and students  many for their postings on social media.