Trump meets Erdogan `unannounced` at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Clay Curtis
December 4, 2019

Reluctant to back North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense plans for Poland and the Baltics ahead of the summit, Turkey has taken issue with the alliance's failure to recognize the threat it faces in northern Syria from the YPG/PKK terror group along its southern border.

President Donald Trump and fellow North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders approved a defense plan for the Baltics and Poland on Wednesday, overcoming resistance from Turkey, which had threatened to block it unless other alliance members designated Kurdish fighters in Syria as terrorists.

"The message to we need to move forward on these response plans and it can't be held up by their own particular concerns", Esper said as he flew to London. "I'm sorry to say, we don't have the same definition of terrorism around the table", Macron told reporters.

"When I look at Turkey, they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder-to-shoulder against ISIS, and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies".

A plan to defend the Baltic nations in case of a Russian attack requires all member states' backing.

The U.S. -backed SDF, a group dominated by the YPG, has been controlling some 28 percent of the Syrian territories, including the most of the 911-kilometer-long Syria-Turkey border. Turkey considers them an enemy because of links to Kurdish insurgents in southeastern Turkey.

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"I think that's very insulting", Trump said of Macron's assertion last month that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is experiencing "brain death", branding it a "very, very nasty statement".

US President Donald Trump has entered a war of words between his French and Turkish counterparts, saying Emmanuel Macron's remark that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was "brain dead" was "very, very nasty" and "disrespectful".

In an interview with Reuters ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, Esper warned Ankara that "not everybody sees the threats that they see" and added he would not support labelling the YPG as terrorists to break the impasse.

"It is true you have fighters coming from Europe but this is a tiny minority and I think the number one priority, because it's not finished, is to get rid of Daesh and terrorist groups".

"There is far, far more that unites us than divides us, and I think one thing every leader here is absolutely resolved upon is the vital importance of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for our collective security", he said as he arrived.

The leaders met in various groups in London on Tuesday before having dinner with Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace, but Macron refused to withdraw his charge that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation strategy is "brain dead" and Trump continued to insist some capitals were "delinquent" in paying their way.

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