Trump speaks with Erdoğan about Libya, Syria
President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran foreign minister warns killing of general is ‘extremely dangerous and foolish escalation’ Congress reacts to U.S. assassination of Iranian general Trump tweets American flag amid reports of strike against Iranian general MORE spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday about the conflict in Libya and fighting in Syria’s Idlib province, according to the White House.
“The leaders discussed bilateral and regional issues,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. “President Trump pointed out that foreign interference is complicating the situation in Libya. The leaders agreed on the need for de-escalation in Idlib, Syria, in order to protect civilians.”
The call between Trump and Erdoğan came after Turkey’s Parliament approved a bill allowing the government to send troops to support the Libyan government in the civil war taking place in the country.
The Libyan government has been fighting Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, which is backed by Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. U.S. officials have expressed concerns about the conflict amid reports of Russian mercenaries backing Haftar’s forces.
Trump, who is nearing the end of a two-week stay at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., spoke with Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, last week about the situation in Libya.
Trump also spoke with Erdoğan amid continuing violence in Idlib, where Syrian and Russian forces have stepped up air strikes that have caused refugees to flee to the Turkish border. The Idlib province represents the last major rebel-held area in the region.
Erdoğan said Thursday that as many as 250,000 migrants were fleeing Idlib and moving towards Turkey and that Ankara was trying to prevent them from crossing the border.
Trump last week warned that Russia, Syria and Iran were close to killing “thousands of innocent civilians” in the region and urged them not to do so. He tweeted Turkey was “working hard to stop this carnage.”
Thursday’s call came after Trump held an unexpected meeting with Erdoğan on the sidelines of a NATO summit in London, his second face-to-face meeting with the Turkish president in less than a month, after Erdoğan visited the White House.
Trump and Erdoğan have maintained the appearance of a positive relationship despite tensions between the United States and Turkey on various fronts, including Ankara’s purchase of Russian missile systems.
Trump was widely scrutinized last year when he pulled back U.S. forces from northern Syria as Turkey planned a military operation along the border, a move that was viewed by critics as green-lighting Ankara’s onslaught against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces.