President Donald Trump said he’ll discuss a trade deal with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a White House meeting on Wednesday.
The deal could expand trade “very significantly” between the two countries, from about $20 billion to as much as $100 billion, Trump said. He called Erdogan, a pariah in much of Washington after his military offensive into Kurdish-held territory in Syria last month, a “good friend.”
“We think that number should be easily $100 billion, which would be great for Turkey and good for us,” Trump told reporters. “So we’re going to be expanding.”
US lawmakers in both parties had urged Trump not to host the Turkish leader at the White House following the offensive, which targeted American Kurdish allies who helped to defeat Islamic State.
Trump threatened to sanction Turkey last month after its Syria incursion, which followed a telephone call with Erdogan in which the American president agreed to withdraw US forces from a region near Turkey’s border. Members of Congress in both parties have criticized Trump for the decision, which they say effectively green-lit Turkey’s offensive.
The sanctions would have raised steel tariffs on Turkey back to 50 per cent, the level before a reduction in May, and the US would halt negotiations over a trade pact, Trump said in a statement at the time. The administration would also sanction the Turkish ministers of defense, energy and the interior, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said.
Trump agreed to hold off on the sanctions after a cease-fire that required the Kurds to abandon the border region.