Trump, Erdogan meeting 'possible after referendum'
Trump, Erdogan meeting 'possible after referendum'

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet Donald Trump in May, the Turkish foreign minister said Wednesday, after the U.S. president congratulated the Turkish leader for winning a referendum on enhancing his powers.

Speaking at a news conference, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will finalize the date according to the two presidents’ schedules.

On Monday, the White House said in a statement that Trump called Erdogan to congratulate him on his referendum victory and to thank him for supporting a U.S. missile attack on Syria in response to a chemical attack by Syrian government forces on April 4.

Trump and Erdogan also agreed on the importance of holding Syrian President Bashar Assad accountable for the chemical attack and discussed the campaign against ISIS, the statement said.

Turkey voted on Sunday to switch to a presidential system, greatly increasing Erdogan’s powers. Unofficial results, which the opposition said it would challenge, showed a narrow victory for him with 51.4 percent of votes cast in favour.

The mission of observers from the 47-member Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights body, said the referendum was an uneven contest. Support for “Yes” dominated campaign coverage, and the arrests of journalists and closure of media outlets silenced other views, the monitors said.

The U.S. State Department said it had taken note of the European monitors’ concerns and looked forward to a final report, urging the Turkish government to protect the rights and freedoms of all citizens, however they voted.

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