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Turkish President Erdoğan accepts Trump invitation to visit White House

Trump and Erdogan
Photo: Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accepted an invitation from President Trump to visit the White House next month, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: Erdoğan accepted the invitation during a call with Trump in which the Turkish president expressed dissatisfaction over the U.S military's apparent failure to implement a safe zone agreement in northeast Syria. Erdogan wants the safe zone to be established to eliminate threats from the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which is supported by the U.S. but considered a terrorist organization by Turkey.

The big picture: Trump has been criticized in the past for his warm relations with strongmen like Erdoğan, who has consolidated power and cracked down on the media and political dissenters over the past few years. Other authoritarian-minded leaders to visit the White House include Hungary's Viktor Orbán, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro and Egypt's Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Flashback: During Erdoğan's last visit to the White House in 2017, Turkish security personnel attacked Kurdish protestors in Washington. Fifteen of the bodyguards were indicted, but charges were later dropped in March 2018 ahead of a meeting between Erdoğan and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Go deeper: Safe zone in northern Syria depends on U.S.-Turkey balancing act