Turkish FM: US account of Trump-Erdoğan call ‘does not fully reflect the truth’

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Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

The White House readout of a Wednesday phone conversation between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and US President Donald Trump differs from what the two leaders actually discussed and could have been prepared in advance, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday, local media reported.

“I think the statement was prepared by the United States before the telephone conversation took place,” Çavuşoğlu said in Istanbul at a joint press conference with his Austrian counterpart, Karin Kneissl. “Hence, it did not fully reflect the truth.”

Turkey on Jan. 20 launched Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin region against People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions, a component of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), considered by authorities in Ankara to be an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which has waged a decades-long war against the Turkish state.

Trump said Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, targeting US-backed Kurdish fighters, “risks undercutting our shared goals in Syria,” according to the White House statement, which also said Trump “urged Turkey to deescalate, limit its military actions, and avoid civilian casualties and increases to displaced persons and refugees.”

Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, however, reported that the official US summary “differ[ed] from the truth discussed between the Turkish and US Presidents’ phone conversation.”

A message sent to journalists from an unnamed Turkish government official also refuted US accounts, CNN reported.

“President Trump did not share any ‘concerns about escalating violence’ with regard to the ongoing military operation in Afrin,” read the message. “The two leaders’ discussion of Operation Olive Branch was limited to an exchange of views.”

“President Trump also expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey, and about United States citizens and local employees detained under the prolonged State of Emergency in Turkey,” the White House claimed in its readout.

Trump never used the expression “destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey” but expressed discomfort about criticism directed at his country, anonymous sources said in a dispute of the readout.

The state of emergency in Turkey was also not mentioned during the call, the sources said.

“[Trump] urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces,” the White House said.

Erdoğan reportedly told Trump that US support for YPG “terrorists” must end as soon as possible, to which Trump said the US is currently not supplying and will not supply any more weaponry to the YPG, according to local Turkish media.

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu called on the government to release the full content of the phone call between Erdoğan and Trump. “The best solution is to release all phone calls as voice recordings. Hence, the facts will be revealed,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

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