President Donald Trump yesterday congratulated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his victory in Sunday’s referendum.
The White House released a brief readout of the phone call between the two leaders in which they also discussed the recent US airstrike on Syria.
Trump’s phone call contrasts sharply with European leaders who have sharply criticized the referendum describing the narrow victory as a sign of authoritarianism.
The statement did not say whether Trump had raised accusations of voting irregularities during the referendum. However, during a White House press briefing yesterday, press secretary Sean Spicer responded to the accusations saying:
There’s an international commission that is reviewing this and issues a report in 10 to 12 days. And so we’ll wait and let them do their job. There were international monitors throughout Turkey.
Spicer added that the Trump did not want to “get ahead of the report”.
The US State Department, however, took a more cautionary tone. Commenting on Erdogan’s victory, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday: “We look to the government of Turkey to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all its citizens – regardless of their vote on April 16 – as guaranteed by the Turkish constitution and in accordance with Turkey‘s international commitments including the Helsinki Charter.”
He noted the concerns raised by European election observers in a preliminary assessment, which found that the conduct of the vote and campaign may not have been even-handed.
The United States is “committed to strengthening” its relationship with Turkey, Toner said.
The United States continues to support Turkey‘s democratic development, to which commitment to the rule of law and a diverse and free media remain essential.
Meanwhile the Saudi Cabinet also congratulated Erdogan and the Turkish people on the successful referendum and said it hoped the vote would contribute to “more development and success across the country.”
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