- REUTERS/Tom Brenner
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said he returned an outlandish letter sent to him by President Donald Trump ahead of the US pullback in Syria.
- The letter, from early October, urged Erdogan in strong terms to avoid a Turkish offensive that might lead to slaughter in northern Syria. He threatened to tank the Turkish economy if Erdogan did not comply.
- The letter – a stark departure from diplomatic norms – prompted a lot of criticism. Turkish sources told media outlets that it had been thrown in the trash.
- Erdogan, however, appears to have kept the letter instead. “This letter was re-presented to the president this afternoon,” Erdogan said at a news conference.
- Visit Business Insider’s home page for more stories.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says he gave back a wild letter that President Donald Trump wrote last month warning him not to be a “fool” and “the devil” in Syria.
During a visit to the White House on Wednesday, Erdogan was asked why he “ignored” Trump’s letter from October, which urged him to strike a deal with Kurdish forces in northern Syria rather than invading.
“This letter was re-presented to the president this afternoon,” Erdogan told the reporter.
It revived the diplomatic spat over the letter, which shocked many for its forthright language including an explicit threat from Trump to tank Turkey’s economy if Erdogan displeased him.
A copy of the letter can be seen in the tweet below:
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained a copy of @realDonaldTrump’s letter to #Erdogan. @POTUS warns him to not “be a tough guy! Don’t be a fool!” Says he could destroy Turkey’s economy if #Syria is not resolved in a humane way. Details tonight at 8pm #TrishRegan #FoxBusiness pic.twitter.com/9BoSGlbRyt
— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) October 16, 2019
Turkish sources at the time told media outlets, including the BBC, that the letter had been thrown in the trash.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Erdogan characterized Turkey’s military intervention in northern Syria as a move against terrorism. Turkey regards Kurdish fighters in the region as terrorists, linking them with Kurdish separatist groups within Turkey.
Erdogan’s military intervention in the region was widely condemned after evidence emerged suggesting possible war crimes against the Kurdish population. The United Nations estimated that 200,000 people have been displaced.