President Donald Trump distanced himself from the Turkey-Syria conflict on Wednesday, even as his top aides headed for the region and a key Republican senator said he was undercutting their mission.
‘NOT OUR PROBLEM’
Amid mounting criticism of his decision to pull U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, Trump said that the tensions were “not our problem.”
Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were scheduled to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an effort to persuade him to pull back on the incursion into Syria.
Trump pushed back on criticism from Sen. Lindsey Graham, who said on Twitter: “The statements by President Trump about Turkey’s invasion being of no concern to us also completely undercut Vice President Pence and Sec. Pompeo’s ability to end the conflict.”
“Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years,” Trump said about the South Carolina lawmaker at a news conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Trump repeatedly called Kurds — who fought alongside U.S. troops against ISIS — “not angels.” Lawmakers have blasted Trump for abandoning the Kurds.
Trump late Wednesday met with bipartisan congressional leadership on the situation, and the meeting apparently ended poorly. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer told reporters afterwards that Trump had called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “third-rate politician.”
The iShares MSCI Turkey ETF
closed down 1.28% on Wednesday.