Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan showed Republican senators an anti-Kurdish video during his visit at the White House.
On November 13, President Erdogan played the video on an iPad during a White House meeting with President Donald Trump and the lawmakers who vocally back the Kurds.
President Trump mostly observed the interaction, sources told media.
He has been widely criticized in the US for his decision to withdraw troops from Syria’s border region.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – which are supported by the US – played a leading role in the fight against ISIS militants.
The senators involved in the White House meeting were Ted Cruz, Rick Scott, Lindsey Graham, Jim Risch, and Joni Ernst.
All five have sharply criticized President Erdogan’s October move against Kurdish forces in Syria following President Trump’s announcement to pull US troops.
Turkey regards the Kurdish fighters as terrorists and is seeking to turn the area into a “safe zone” for resettling the Syrian refugees currently in Turkey.
President Erdogan reportedly believed he might change the senators’ views on the Kurds by showing them the short film, but instead received pushback from the entire group.
After viewing the film, Lindsey Graham asked Presidnet Erdogan if he wanted him “to go get the Kurds to make one about what you’ve done”, prompting a heated discussion, a source present during the meeting told the Axios news website, which first reported the incident.
President Trump only occasionally intervened in the conversation as the senators took turns debating President Erdogan.
Donald Trump said during a news conference on November 13 he was a “big fan” of President Erdogan. He has previously said that the Kurds are “not angels”.
President Trump had invited the lawmakers to speak to President Erdogan to try to persuade him to avoid buying Russian military equipment, administration sources told media.
Turkey has been threatened with sanctions if it continues to deploy Russian defense systems.
The senators have said they will not allow Turkey to purchase US fighter jets if President Erdogan continues to procure equipment from Russia.
Following the meeting, Senator Ted Cruz released a statement saying he has always viewed Turkey as “a deeply problematic ally, but an ally nonetheless”.