U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he will host his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Washington next month.
News of the meeting had been circulating but Trump made it official in a tweet as he faces criticism from the Democratic and Republican parties about a U.S. troop withdrawal from northeast Syria.
"So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet," Trump said in announcing the Nov. 13 sit-down.
"They have also been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province, and returning, in very good health, at my request, Pastor Brunson, who had many years of a long prison term remaining," said Trump.
Brunson was arrested in December 2016 and charged in the Aegean province of Izmir with being a member of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind a defeated coup. Last October, he was released due to time served and good behavior in custody.
Trump reiterated that Turkey is "an important member in good standing of NATO," placing Ankara in rare air at a time when the U.S. repeatedly criticizes NATO members for not living up to their responsibilities to the alliance.
But he warned Turkey again with economic consequences if "any unforced or unnecessary fighting" is made and he noted 50 American soldiers would remain in that section of Syria.
Trump has been facing mounting pressure at home after the White House announced the U.S. would pull back forces in Syria ahead of a "long-planned" Turkish operation.
Along with Democrats, a group of Republicans senators on Capitol Hill led by Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell voiced concern about the the troop pullout.
By Beyza Binnur Donmez and Vakkas Dogantekin