A day after the Kremlin released a tense photo of President Obama meeting with President Vladimir Putin, Obama presented a unified front with Turkey at a Paris presser with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan, who reportedly vowed to step down if Putin can prove his allegations that Turkey trades oil with ISIS, displayed special warmth with Obama, referring to the American leader as “my dear friend.”
“I want to be very clear: Turkey is a NATO ally,” Obama said. “Along with our allies, the United States supports Turkey’s right to defend itself and its airspace and its territory. And we’re very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty.”
A Russian Su-24 pilot was killed after Turkey shot down the fighter last week, saying that the Russians ignored 10 warnings that they were in Turkish airspace. Russia claims that no warnings were heard.
Obama said he and Erdogan discussed “how Turkey and Russia can work together to deescalate tensions and find a diplomatic path to resolve this issue.”
“Turkey has been extraordinarily generous when it comes to its support of refugees. And I was glad to hear that they’ve had a productive meeting with the EU about how not only can border security be strengthened, but also additional resources for humanitarian support can be forthcoming,” Obama continued.
“And we are very much interested in accelerating the work that’s been taking place on our military-to-military relationship to ensure that not only Turkey is safe and secure, but also that Syria can finally begin winding down what has been a terribly costly war, and we can focus our attention on ensuring that ISIL is no longer a threat to all of us.”
Erdogan said of Russia tensions that “of course, we are always willing to resort to the diplomatic language, because the diplomatic language will be sufficient in order to resolve the problems in the region — because we don’t want to invest in tensions; we want to avoid the tensions.”
“We don’t want to get hurt and we don’t want no one to get hurt, because if a tension arises in the region, all of the parties involved get damaged at the end,” the Turkish leader said. “We want peace to prevail at all costs, and we want the peace, which will prevail, to contribute to the peace which will be established in the region at a larger extent.”
Erdogan reiterated his charge that Russia is bombing Turkmen fighters.
“We focused on the Turkomans, which are the Turkish descendants in Syria. We know that where the Turkomans are present, there’s no Daesh presence or ISIS presence,” he said. “As I’ve said before, they are the Turkish descendants; they are the relatives of the Republic of Turkey. And that area is continuously bombed. In the last few weeks, more than 500 civilians were killed, so we would like to see the resolution of that problem as soon as possible as well.”
The Kremlin said Monday that Obama and Putin “had a detailed exchange of views on the situation in Syria” in their sidelines meeting at the climate summit in Paris. “The two presidents expressed support for moving towards a political settlement. Mr Obama expressed his regret over the incident with the Russian military airplane shot down by the Turkish air force in Syria.”
“The two presidents also discussed the situation in Ukraine and noted the need for swift implementation of the Minsk agreements,” the Kremlin added in its readout of the meeting.