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Erdogan Urges U.S. to Hand Over Kurdish Commander as ‘Wanted Terrorist’

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses supporters during a rally in Istanbul, March 12, 2019. (Murad Sezer / Reuters)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Turkish state TV on Thursday that he expected the U.S. to comply with the extradition of Syrian Kurdish commander Mazloum Kobani Abdi.

“He is a terrorist with the code name Mazloum,” Erdogan said in the interview. “America needs to hand over this man to us.”

The comments came hours after President Trump tweeted in praise of Abdi.

The president also mentioned Abdi before his speech Wednesday on the permanent ceasefire agreement between Turkey and the Kurds, extending his thanks to the Kurdish commander and saying “I look forward to seeing you soon.”

Erdogan also said in the interview that he would bring up Abdi during his upcoming White House visit with Trump, which is scheduled for November 13. He also said the pair would discuss the now-infamous letter that Trump sent October 9 urging Erdogan to not be a “tough guy” and reach an agreement with the Kurds.

Trump also mentioned in the letter that Abdi was “willing to make concessions that they would never have made in the past,” and enclosed a copy of a letter from the SDF commander for Erdogan to see.

“It was quite inappropriate to attach the letter from a terrorist to his cover letter,” Erdogan said Thursday in commenting on the situation.

Although Trump’s withdrawal has been enacted, Congress has been outspoken in its defense of the Kurds. On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Secretary of State State Mike Pompeo to expedite a visa for Abdi to visit the U.S. and “discuss the path forward in deescalating conflict in Syria and the path forward in the fight against ISIS.”

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