Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he could no longer “keep track” of the tweets by his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump as tensions mount over Ankara’s operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, in comments published Wednesday.
“When we take a look at Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts, we can no longer follow them. We cannot keep track,” Erdogan told Turkish journalists aboard a plane returning from Baku, in comments carried by the Hurriyet daily.
Turkey last week began an operation to drive back Syrian Kurdish militants from northern Syria, after the U.S. pulled 1,000 troops out of the area.
"It's not our problem," Trump says in Oval Office of Turkey's invasion into Syria. He adds that the Kurds are "not angels." Also, he says this: "They've got a lot of sand over there…. There's a lot of sand they can play with."
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) October 16, 2019
The withdrawal was seen as a green light from the White House for the Turkish offensive. But facing a massive backlash at home, Trump later issued a series of conflicting statements, at times threatening Ankara, and at others, suggesting the U.S. had no role in the fight between Turkey and Kurdish militants.
In one typically contradictory tweet, Trump announced: “Big sanctions on Turkey coming! Do people really think we should go to war with NATO member Turkey? Never ending wars will end!”
In his interview with the Turkish journalists, Erdogan also shared an anecdote from his telephone call with Trump this week.
“I told Trump: ‘You get very angry with the media from time to time. You are now under their influence. Don’t listen to them, you are a strong leader. This does not befit a strong leader’,” he said, according to the Yeni Safak daily.
Trump sent Pence along with his top diplomat Mike Pompeo to Turkey amid the greatest crisis in relations for decades between the NATO allies.
Turkey's president @RTErdogan tells @AlexCrawfordSky he will not speak with the US Vice President about a ceasefire in Syria during his visit – adding that he will only talk to President @realDonaldTrump.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 16, 2019
Despite an earlier statement by Erdogan on Wednesday that he would not meet visiting U.S. Vice President Pence, his office said the meeting would go ahead after all.
“Earlier today, the President told @SkyNews that he won’t receive a U.S. delegation that is visiting Ankara today. He does plan to meet the US delegation led by @VP (Pence),” wrote Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun on Twitter.