President Trump says he wants a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey barely a month after Turkey breached its border with Syria to drive Kurds out of the area.
Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office on Wednesday.
“We think that number should be easily $100 billion, which would be great for Turkey and good for us,” Trump told reporters. “So, we’re going to be expanding.”
Trump had threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey after its incursion into Syria. The sanctions would have raised steel tariffs to 50% and would have ended negotiations related to a trade pact. They also would have affected Turkey’s ministers of defense, energy and interior.
Trump withdrew the threat after a permanent ceasefire was reached.
Trump sent a letter to Erdogan last week offering an expanded trade deal and a plan to avoid sanctions over Ankara’s purchase of an S-400 missile defense system from Russia that would block Turkey from participating in the F-35 communications and defense program. Trump proposed that Turkey not unpack and deploy the missile system.
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers had urged Trump not to host Erdogan in light of the Syrian incursion, which occurred after Trump decided to pull U.S. troops from the area. The U.S. troops had been working with the largely Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces to oust Islamic State group terrorists from the area.
“It’s absolutely shameful that President Trump has invited President Erdogan to the White House after Erdogan attacked our Syrian Kurdish allies,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said, especially in light of war crimes committed during the incursion.
The U.S. withdrawal created a power vacuum and Russia took advantage of that, working out agreements that allowed it to move its troops into the area to create a 20-mile buffer zone to keep Kurds out of the border area where it plans to resettle 2 million Syrian refugees. Nearly 180,000 people have been displaced since the Oct. 9 operation began
Turkey regards the SDF as a terrorist allied with Kurdish separatists in Turkey.
Erdogan said last week Ankara would not withdraw its troops from the region until no Kurdish militia remain and other countries also withdrew their troops.
“We will not let up until every last terrorist leaves the region,” Erdogan told reporters Friday on the way home from Hungary.
“We will not leave here until the other countries get out.”