Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday that he had returned a letter sent by President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump faces high stakes in meeting with Erdoğan amid impeachment drama Democrats worry they don’t have right candidate to beat Trump Trump threatening to fire Mulvaney: report MORE warning him not to be a “tough guy” before Turkey began a military assault against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.
During a joint press conference at the White House alongside Trump, Erdoğan told reporters that he had returned the letter to Trump, refuting reports that he had thrown it away upon receiving it, according to Bloomberg.
Trump’s letter to the Turkish president was widely mocked on social media after it was made public last month, and sources within Erdoğan’s government indicated to the BBC that it was “thoroughly rejected” at the time.
“President Erdoğan received the letter, thoroughly rejected it and put it in the bin,” the source said, according to the BBC.
In the letter, Trump had urged Erdoğan against a military action targeting the U.S.-allied Kurds, warning him that he would “destroy” Turkey’s economy were Erdoğan to go through with his plans.
“Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy — and I will,” Trump wrote.
Turkey considers Kurdish militant groups operating in northern Syria to be terrorists despite their work with the U.S-led coalition against ISIS and has sought to drive Kurdish forces out of an area of the country where it plans to resettle more than 1 million Syrian refugees.
The Trump administration faced heavy criticism on Capitol Hill over its decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the region, which many saw as paving the way for a Turkish invasion.
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