The U.S. and Turkey have released different versions of a phone call between leaders Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, highlighting tensions between the two countries amid a Turkish military operation inside Syria last weekend, The Guardian writes.
According to the White House readout of a call between the two leaders, Trump relayed “concerns” over the escalating violence in the Kurdish enclave in Afrin and urged Turkey to “de-escalate, limit its military actions and avoid civilian casualties.”
Trump also called on Ankara to avoid actions that risked conflict with U.S. forces, which have provided arms and air cover for the Kurdish militias Turkey is now battling in Syria, the White House said, the news outlet writes.
A Turkish official said the White House readout did not accurately reflect the content of the call. The U.S. President did not raise concerns about escalating violence in Afrin, the official said, and the two presidents had simply exchanged views on the operation, The Guardian adds.
The official also denied that Trump had “expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey”, as mentioned in the White House readout, saying Trump had instead stressed that open criticism of the US in Ankara was raising concerns in Washington.
The official said Erdogan replied that U.S. policies – such as support for the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the “harbouring” of Fethullah Gulen, an exiled cleric accused of masterminding the 2016 attempted coup – had “caused outrage among the Turkish people.”