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Trump Set to Host Erdogan With Syria, Arming Kurds Key Topics

  • VOA News

President Donald Trump welcomes Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House in Washington, May 16, 2017.

A week after U.S. President Donald Trump sparked anger in Turkey by authorizing arming of Syrian Kurds, he is hosting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks Tuesday at the White House with an expected focus on that dispute, as well as the wider conflict in Syria.

The U.S. sees the Kurdish force, the YPG, as a key part in the fight against Islamic State and the effort to oust the militants from their de facto capital in Raqqa. But Turkey considers the YPG terrorists because of their links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party that has been waging a three-decade insurgency inside of Turkey.

Erdogan called the decision to provide U.S. arms "contrary to our strategic relations to the U.S."

But he said last week ahead of the trip that he views his visit to Washington as "a new beginning in Turkish-American relations."

Both Turkey and the United States have backed rebels in Syria during the six-year war against President Bashar al-Assad's forces and allies. And the NATO allies have been heavily involved in battling Islamic State since the group swept into large areas of northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria in mid-2014.

Erdogan is also likely to bring up with Trump the status of Fethullah Gulen, the exiled cleric living in the United States whom the Turkish president blames for a failed coup attempt last year. Turkey has asked the U.S. to extradite Gulen, but that request has gone nowhere.

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