Erdogan says Trump letter was out of line, and vows response

US President Donald Trump's Oct 9 letter to him was not in line with "political and diplomatic courtesy", said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish media reported Mr Erdogan had "binned" the letter. PHOTO: REUTERS
US President Donald Trump's Oct 9 letter to him was not in line with "political and diplomatic courtesy", said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkish media reported Mr Erdogan had "binned" the letter. PHOTO: REUTERS

ANKARA • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will not forget a letter from United States President Donald Trump that warned him not to be a "fool", a "tough guy" or a "devil", and vowed a response to what he said was a missive out of line with diplomatic courtesies.

Mr Trump penned the warnings in a letter to Mr Erdogan dated Oct 9 in an effort to persuade the Turkish leader not to start a military offensive in Syria.

Turkey sent troops across the border to push back American-backed Kurdish fighters on the same day, and the operation was its response to Mr Trump's letter, according to Ms Gulnur Aybet, an aide to Mr Erdogan.

Mr Erdogan's remarks yesterday are his first public reaction to the widely ridiculed letter.

They come a day after he reached a deal with US Vice-President Mike Pence in Ankara to halt Turkey's offensive for 120 hours to allow the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters that Ankara considers a terrorist threat.

Just hours before the US-Turkey talks, the bizarre letter from Mr Trump to Mr Erdogan appeared in American media, in which the US leader urged Mr Erdogan not to be a "fool", and warned his Turkish counterpart that history risked branding him a "devil".

Turkish media reported that the Turkish President had "binned" the letter.

Mr Erdogan said yesterday that the letter was not in line with "political and diplomatic courtesy... but our mutual love and respect does not allow us to keep it on the agenda". He said he was withholding a response at the moment.

"We don't see this issue as our priority today," he told the media in Istanbul. But "it should be known that when the time comes, necessary action will be taken regarding this issue".

 

Mr Erdogan is expected to meet Mr Trump in Washington on Nov 13.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2019, with the headline 'Erdogan says Trump letter was out of line, and vows response'. Print Edition | Subscribe