Trump Set to Host Erdogan
A week after U.S. President Donald Trump sparked anger in Turkey by authorizing arming of Syrian Kurds, he is hosting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for talks Tuesday at the White House with an expected focus on that dispute, as well as the wider conflict in Syria.
The U.S. sees the Kurdish force, the YPG, as a key part in the fight against Islamic State and the effort to oust the militants from their de facto capital in Raqqa. But Turkey considers the YPG terrorists because of their links to the Kurdistan Workers' Party that has been waging a three-decade insurgency inside of Turkey.
Erdogan called the decision to provide U.S. arms "contrary to our strategic relations to the U.S."
But he said last week ahead of the trip that he views his visit to Washington as "a new beginning in Turkish-American relations."
White House Denies Trump Leaked Highly Classified Intelligence to Russian Officials
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and other members of the Trump administration have denied the accuracy of published reports that the president revealed highly classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office.
The original story, first reported by the Washington Post, "is false," McMaster told reporters on the White House grounds late Monday. "At no time were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operation that was not already publicly known," he added.
"I was there. It didn't happen," McMaster concluded, then turned around and re-entered the West Wing without answering reporters' questions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who said he also attended the May 10 meeting with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador, backed up McMaster's characterization of the conversation, adding in a statement that "a broad range of subjects were discussed, among which were common efforts and threats regarding counter-terrorism."
Several U.S. news organizations reported that the president, in the Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, disclosed information considered highly classified.
Trump appeared to be boasting about inside knowledge of a looming threat to aviation, according to the Washington Post.
The New York Times reported that the information, which was deemed to be especially sensitive, had not even been shared widely within the U.S. government or shared with other allies.
The two newspapers, and others, further said the information could jeopardize a critical source of intelligence about Islamic State and the manner in which it was collected.
A U.S. president has the power to declassify nearly any information, so what Trump did does not appear to be illegal. But intelligence officials, quoted by the newspapers, expressed concern that the information, provided by a U.S. partner government, could harm crucial relationships.
The Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency declined immediate comment when contacted by VOA.