- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2016

President Obama pledged Sunday to help Turkey prosecute the plotters of its attempted coup, while the fallout continued over Mr. Obama’s rough arrival at the Group of 20 summit in Hangzhou, China.

Mr. Obama told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the U.S. is committed to “investigating and bringing the perpetrators of these illegal actions to justice.”

“Our Justice Department and my national security team will continue to cooperate with Turkish authorities to determine how we will make sure that those who carried out these activities are brought to justice,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama didn’t address the fate of Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Mr. Erdogan is seeking to extradite from the U.S.

Ankara accuses Mr. Gulen, who is living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, of ordering the July 15 coup in Turkey, during which a group within the military tried to remove Mr. Erdogan from power.



The U.S. has insisted it will extradite Mr. Gulen if Turkey can provide acceptable proof of his involvement.


SEE ALSO: Obama seeks to curb China’s expanding clout, move beyond past in Laos


The friction over Mr. Obama’s arrival at the summit of representatives from 20 industrial and emerging-market nations was still in the air Sunday. Referring to shouting matches and confrontations between Chinese and U.S. officials upon his arrival at the G-20, Mr. Obama said he “wouldn’t overcrank the significance of it.”

“We’ve got a lot of planes and helicopters and a lot of cars and a lot of guys and, you know, if you’re a host country, sometimes it may feel a little bit much,” Mr. Obama told reporters.

He said the U.S. would never apologize for its insistence on press access but that he understood why Chinese officials may have chafed at the Americans’ demands.

“We don’t leave our values and ideals behind when we take these trips. It can cause some friction,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama arrived to no red-carpeted stairs for Air Force One and open quarreling on the tarmac between Chinese and U.S. officials over press access. Other leaders received far grander welcomes.

The rancor continued Saturday as Mr. Obama met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to cement a carbon reduction agreement and haggle over long-standing disputes such as cybersecurity and maritime aggression.

Chinese media reported Sunday that the U.S. didn’t request a red carpet for Mr. Obama upon his arrival on Air Force One. Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Theresa May, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi all got to walk along red carpet upon their arrivals.

“China provides a rolling staircase for every arriving state leader, but the U.S. side complained that the driver doesn’t speak English and can’t understand security instructions from the United States,” the South China Post reported, citing a Chinese Foreign Ministry official. “So China proposed that we could assign a translator to sit beside the driver, but the U.S. side turned down the proposal and insisted that they didn’t need the staircase provided by the airport.”

The president’s Sunday meeting with Mr. Erdogan held perhaps the most significant national security implications. More than 13,000 people have been remanded in custody in Turkey and nearly 75,000 passports have been canceled since the coup attempt.

Mr. Obama, who is expected to meet Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the fight against the Islamic State in Syria, is relying on Mr. Erdogan’s cooperation to defeat the terrorist group on Turkey’s southwestern border.

Mr. Obama said Turkey has gone through “a tumultuous event.”

“This coup was serious,” he said in a CNN interview broadcast Sunday. “You had members of the military engaging in treasonous acts against a democratically elected government. … You now have a reaction by the Turkish government that understandably is scared and concerned.”

He said Mr. Erdogan began his career as a reformer and needs to remind himself of “the values that you came in with.”

“I think the Turkish people are going to be debating this and working through this over the next several months,” the president said. “We haven’t seen a diminishing, uh, effect on our security relations. Turkey continues to be a strong NATO ally. They are working with us to defeat ISIL and are an important partner on a whole range of security issues in the region.”

Mr. Obama also held his first meeting with Mrs. May, who took over as prime minister after the United Kingdom’s vote this summer to leave the European Union. He said the U.S.-U.K. “special relationship” would persist as Britain works to exit the European Union.

“The bottom line is that we don’t have a stronger partner anywhere in the world than the United Kingdom,” Mr. Obama said. “Despite the turbulence of political events over the last several months, we have every intention to making sure that that continues.”

Mrs. May succeeded David Cameron, a close Obama ally who resigned in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Mr. Obama had taken the unusual step of lobbying against the EU exit but said he would stand by Britain amid its internal struggles.

Mrs. May insisted during a joint appearance with Mr. Obama that exit negotiations would move forward.

“Brexit does indeed mean Brexit,” she said.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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