Trump becomes first western leader to congratulate Erdogan on referendum win

Donald Trump at the White House. (Photo: Shealah Craighead/White House/REX/Shutterstock)

US President Donald Trump has congratulated Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his unofficial referendum victory, which has bolstered the Turkish president’s executive powers.

Trump spoke to Erdogan on the phone late Monday after a statement by an official from the Secretary of State’s department said the US would only comment after a report from international observers (OSCE) was released.

A statement by the White House said the two leaders discussed Syria and  the campaign against the Islamic State (IS) with Trump thanking Erdogan for his support of the US action in Syria following claims of chemical weapon use by the Syrian government.

Turkish presidential sources said Trump had also vowed close cooperation in the fight against outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.

The US President becomes the first western leader to congratulate Erdogan and joins a list of less illustrious governments and groups, including Azerbaijan, Hamas and the jihadist Ahrar al-Sham, a group the US views as a terrorist organisation.

European leaders have refrained from congratulating Erdogan after widespread reports of election fraud.