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A Turkish security guard kicks a protestor in Washington in May 2017. Photo: Voice of America via AP

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told PBS NewsHour that President Trump apologized to him about the May incident in which Turkish security personnel beat peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C.

Pushback: A White House official told Axios that Erdogan and Trump "discussed a wide range of issues" on the call but "the comments were not true and the President did not apologize."

The quote: "Actually President Trump called me about a week ago about this issue. He said that he was sorry and he told me he was going to follow up about this issue when we come to the United States within the framework of an official visit. The protesters were insulting us, and they were screaming and shouting. The police failed to intervene properly."

The incident: Erdogan looked on as guards charged into a park and clashed with protesters. Trump did not speak out against the violence at the time, but it belatedly sparked a diplomatic incident as arrest warrants were issued for 12 of Erdogan's security guards, and four other security officials were arrested. Erdogan said that was a "scandalous sign of how justice works in the United States." More recently, Congress has considered banning guns sales to Erdogan's presidential security.

The broader picture: Turkey is a key strategic ally of the U.S., but there have been severe strains on the relationship, one of which centers on the U.S. alliance with Kurdish fighters against ISIS. Erdogan has also been acting in an increasingly authoritarian fashion after a failed coup attempt last year, and Trump was criticized for congratulating him on winning a constitutional referendum that was widely viewed as a power grab.

This story has been updated with the denial from the White House.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.