Erdogan Invites Trump For Visit As Ankara Mulls Double-Deal For US, Russian Missile Systems

President Trump has been invited by to visit Turkey in 2019 by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said on Monday night. While Trump has not accepted the offer, he "is open to a potential meeting in the future," according to White House spokesman Hogan Gidley. 

As Bloomberg notes, the invitation was extended less than a week after President Trump announced a massive withdrawal of US troops from Syria - where they have supported Kurdish forces considered enemies of the Turkish state. Erdogan considers the US allies an extension of the PKK - deemed a terrorist group by both the EU and US. 

During a lengthy phone call on Dec. 14, Trump shocked even those in his inner circle by yielding to a suggestion from Erdogan to pull U.S. forces from the country, where eight years of civil war has forced millions of citizens to flee and established Iran and Russia as protectors of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The president later declared that the U.S. had won the battle against Islamic State, saying that was “my only reason for being there.” -Bloomberg

Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned abruptly following Trump's decision, followed by leading US diplomat Brett McGurk - a move which Trump couldn't resist knocking over Twitter.

Despite the strengthening of relations between Washington and Ankara, Turkey will not alter its plans to buy the Russian S-400 missile defense system regardless of its decision on whether or not to buy US-made Patriot missiles, according to the Turkish presidential spokesman on Monday, according to France24

Russian-made S-400 missile system

"The US Patriot sale process does not affect the S-400 process. We don't see one as an alternative for the other," said Ibrahim Kalin. 

US made-Patriot missile system

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will convene his top defense body on Thursday to discuss a December 19 proposal to sell a package including 80 Patriot missiles and 60 PAC-3 missile interceptors to Turkey, a senior Turkish official told Bloomberg

Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400s has drawn criticism from NATO allies - with the United States warning that the purchase jeopardized Turkey's participation in the F-35 fighter jet program. 

Turkish officials have previously said it "needs" the S-400 missile defence system and repeatedly stressed that Ankara would buy systems from allies if they had sold them.

Turkish media has reported that the first delivery from Russia will be in 2019. -France24

Turkey's S-400 order has been cited as a key symbol of Turkey's closer relationship between Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the two men have also been working in concert to find a political solution to the almost seven-year war in Syria despite being on opposite sides of the conflict. 

While Turkey has supported Syrian rebels and called for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's ouster, Russia's 2015 intervention helped the Damascus regime recapture large portions of the country taken over by Islamic militants.