Trump Set To Meet With Turkish Leader Despite Lawmakers' Disapproval

WCBS 880 Newsroom
November 12, 2019 - 1:24 pm
Trump and Erdogan

Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) — President Donald Trump will reportedly confront Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about his decision to buy a Russian air defense system when they meet this week at the White House.

According to Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, the United States is still “very upset” by Turkey’s decision to purchase the Russian system, which is not compatible with NATA forces.

O'Brien told CBS' "Face the Nation" that if Turkey doesn't get rid of the Russian system, Turkey will likely face U.S. sanctions backed by a bipartisan majority in Congress.

Trump is scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday. Trump and Erdogan plan a joint news conference Wednesday afternoon.

However, some lawmakers believe the president is making a mistake by inviting the Turkish leader to the nation’s capital.

When asked about the meeting, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said “it’s a big mistake and the president is sending the wrong signals.”

“The House just got through passing a tough sanctions bill for all the things that Erdogan has done. This, of course, would dilute that, this would have some confusion in terms of what America’s policy really is,” Engel said.

“In a time when Erdogan is jailing people, is making moves against the Kurds, is doing all kinds of things that is not in the best interest of the United States, we should not be rewarding him with a meeting with the president of the United States,” he adds.

The Trump administration already removed Turkey from the f-35 program in July and has threatened to remove the country from NATO.

“There's no place in NATO for the S-400,” O'Brien said on “Face the Nation.” “There's no place in NATO for significant Russian military purchases. That's a message that the president will deliver to him very clearly when he's here in Washington.”

He notes that the U.S. plans to do everything it can to keep Turkey in the alliance and Engel agrees removal should be a “last resort.”

“I think it's something that should be under consideration because the alternative would be every time we have a crisis, if Turkey is not going to be a loyal and faithful ally and is going to side with (Vladimir) Putin and side with Russia and side with totalitarian governments and dictators, well then I don't know what they're doing in there to begin with,” the congressman said.

Turkey has been roundly criticized for its incursion into northern Syria to attack Kurdish forces that were fighting with the U.S. against Islamic State militants. Trump has been denounced for removing U.S. forces from the area before the incursion, but O'Brien said the administration did not pave the way for Erdogan's offensive into Syria.

(© 2019 WCBS 880. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)