[UPDATE] Erdoğan and Trump reaffirm their opposition to KRG referendum

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Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump wait for a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly September 21, 2017 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his US counterpart, Donald Trump, met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday and reaffirmed their opposition to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) independence referendum to be held on Sept. 25.

According to a White House press release on Thursday, Erdoğan and Trump agreed on collaborating to ensure regional stability while fighting against terrorism and called on Kurdish leaders “to accept the process of intense negotiations on all outstanding issues which the United States and Turkey are prepared to endorse and support.”

Turkey strongly opposes the KRG referendum decision. Turkey’s National Security Council (MGK) at a meeting on July 17 stated that “the KRG’s referendum decision will not be able to be put into practice either de jure or de facto.”

Trump praised Erdoğan as a friend who gets “high marks” for “running a very difficult part of the world” despite tensions between the two countries over the conduct of Turkish security officers toward American protesters, the Voice of America reported.

The meeting between two leaders came shortly security guards and Erdoğan supporters beat up protesters during a gathering in New York City.

Earlier in May of this year, Erdoğan’s security detail had been caught in video footage viciously beating up protesters outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington, D.C., during an official visit to the US. Fifteen of his bodyguards have been indicted and are wanted by US authorities to stand trial.

During an event organized by the Turkish American National Steering Committee (TASC) at the New York Marriott Marquis hotel before Erdoğan’s meeting with Trump, security guards along with members of the audience beat up protesters who unfurled banners and began shouting, “Terrorist! Terrorist!”

Voice of America TV footage shows audience members pummeling a protester as security officers tried to hustle him to safety. Soon after he was gone, a second man followed suit and also was repeatedly punched and hit over the head with Turkish flags as he was led outside by security.

After the protesters were taken out, Erdoğan said, “Let’s not give this gathering to a few impertinent hall terrorists,” while trying to calm his supporters in the hall.

In 2016, supporters and members of Erdoğan’s security detail had violently clashed with protesters and members of the media at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

And in 2011, security officers accompanying Erdoğan were involved in a brawl with United Nations security staff as the president tried to enter the hall to listen to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speak.

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