It was the two leaders’ first conversation since Trump took office in January.
Trump welcomed Turkey’s efforts in the battle against ISIS, according to a White House readout of the conversation, and spoke of both countries’ commitment to fighting terrorism “in all its forms.”
“Unpleasant issues that aren’t mentioned include the future of Syria, who leads it, US relations with Iran, and all these are important in terms of the future of Turkey-US relations,” Research Fellow at Sydney’s Lowy Institute Rodger Shanahan said.
“They’re trying to highlight the issues of common interest, which aren’t that many, which is why they mention the Islamic State.”
Turkey-US relations cool
Erdogan demanded the US hand over Gulen, whom he blamed for the coup attempt, but the Obama administration asked for proof of his involvement.
“I give him great credit for being able to turn that around,” he said.
“We’d happily welcome global talent not allowed back into #USA,” he wrote.
The Trump administration has yet to detail exactly what the safe zones will entail but, given Turkey’s close proximity and military involvement, the US President will need their help.
“Trump’s safe zone plan relies on Turkish cooperation and Trump has said unequivocally there will be safe zones,” Shanahan said.
“There’s a potential political win-win in this and Erdogan would know that it’s a bone he could throw Trump for better relations at a relatively minimal cost.”