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'He's running a very difficult part of the world'

Trump says ‘friend’ Erdogan getting ‘high marks’

Earlier this week, US froze arms sales to Turkish president’s bodyguards, after his aides attacked demonstrators in Washington

US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after speaking to the press in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
US President Donald Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after speaking to the press in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on May 16, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

NEW YORK — US President Donald Trump held talks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, praising the controversial Turkish president’s leadership despite a domestic crackdown on critics.

“(Erdogan) has become a friend of mine,” Trump said as the pair met on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. “He’s running a very difficult part of the world.”

“Frankly he’s getting high marks,” Trump added.

The effusive praise comes in stark contrast to multiple disputes between Washington and Ankara.

Earlier this week the US government froze arms sales to Erdogan’s bodyguards, after his aides attacked demonstrators in Washington last May.

Footage said to be of scuffles outside the Turkish Embassy in DC, May 16, 2017. (Twitter screen capture)

Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama had criticized the Erdogan government’s jailing of journalists and a purge from government of those suspected of disloyalty to the veteran leader.

More than 140,000 public sector employees have been suspended or sacked under a state of emergency imposed after an attempted putsch against Erdogan last year.

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