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President Trump threatens Turkey with economic devastation if it attacks Syrian Kurd militia

ISTANBUL/RIYADH, Jan 14 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Turkey with economic devastation if it attacks a U.S.-allied Kurdish militia in Syria, drawing a sharp rebuke from Ankara on Monday and reviving fears of another downturn in ties between the NATO allies.

Relations between the United States and Turkey have long been strained by Washington’s support for the Kurdish YPG, which Turkey views as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that is waging a decades-long insurgency in Turkey.

Speaking in Riyadh, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he did not think the threat would change plans to withdraw troops from Syria. Asked what Trump meant by economic devastation, he said: “You’ll have to ask the president.”

“We have applied economic sanctions in many places, I assume he is speaking about those kinds of things, Pompeo said, adding he had not spoken with Ankara since Trump’s comment.

Trump said on Sunday the United States was starting the military pull-out from Syria that he announced in December but that it would continue to hit Islamic State fighters there.

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U.S. President Donald Trump gestures after arriving at John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport in Johnstown after arriving in Pennsylvania to take part in the 17th annual September 11 observance at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: “Celebratory fist pumps on a national day of mourning and reflection caught even the most seasoned of us off guard.” REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

A supporter of Trump and Republican senate candidate Mike Braun attends the election night party in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., November 6, 2018. Reuters photographer Chris Bergin: “I saw the colour-coordinated woman in the back of the ball room while covering mid-term elections. She stood out to me because she was lit by a single overhead light that created deep shadows.” REUTERS/Chris Bergin SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with supporters from a group called “Bikers for Trump” at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “President Trump likes to be celebrated by supporters, and none better than a group known as “Bikers for Trump,” who visited him at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, this summer. Unfortunately, it poured down that day and plans for an outdoor event gave way to a short visit inside the clubhouse for a group photo.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Christine Blasey Ford closes her eyes as she is sworn in before testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 27, 2018. Reuters photographer Jim Bourg: “The moment looks peaceful as if Christine Blasey Ford had closed her eyes in thought, but the image actually reflects the fact that in the nine seconds that she had her hand up to be sworn in to testify, she blinked several times. Blasey Ford began her testimony by saying: ‘I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school.'” REUTERS/Jim Bourg SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump, en route to deliver remarks at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention, arrives aboard Air Force One at Nashville International Airport in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S. January 8, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: “One of my favorite photographers, Sam Abell, likes to quote his father: “Bad weather makes good pictures.” In addition to the weather, the controlled chaos of White House press handlers and Secret Service agents help make pictures like this possible.” REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are seen behind the reflection of a House chamber railing as Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 30, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “The State of the Union speech is one of the most important political events at the beginning of the year. We usually photograph it from several fixed positions, but this year I was assigned to be the ‘rotating’ photographer, meaning I could move around on the balcony and shoot from different angles, but only during short windows of time. During one of those windows, I found an interesting play of light reflected off a gold-colored railing, which, at a certain angle, could be seen to fall over the president.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump confers with White House Communications Director Hope Hicks (L) as White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders listens during an interview with Reuters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 17, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: “I stayed in the room after our reporters had left, and seemingly unnoticed like the cliched ‘fly on the wall’, I was witness to this unusual moment.” REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump appears on the South Portico of the White House with the Easter Bunny standing behind him as the annual White House Easter Egg Roll is held on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 2, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “There are many holiday events at the White House, but one of the most light-hearted happens during Easter, when the President shows up at the balcony of the South Portico accompanied by someone in a big Easter bunny costume. I didn’t have the best position, but towards the end, the bunny stood behind the President and I was able to take this shot.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron prepare to have their picture taken on a visit to the estate of the first U.S. President George Washington in Mount Vernon, Virginia outside Washington, U.S., April 23, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: “I’m always happy for events that take us off the White House campus and provide new visual opportunities. This day, when the Trumps feted the Macrons at George Washington’s historic estate, it provided just the right contrast for the stylish leader-couples as they took their spots for an otherwise posed moment.” REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as he takes part in the commemoration ceremony for Armistice Day, 100 years after the end of World War One, at the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial in Paris, France, November 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “During a recent visit to France and just days after a gunman opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue, President Trump visited a WWI cemetery to honor American soldiers. As he spoke, I noted a gravestone at a side angle Ñ a single Star of David in the middle of rows and rows of crosses. I felt in this moment, the image carried more meaning than the words.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds his prepared questions as he hosts a listening session with high school students and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 21, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: “This event was loaded with raw emotion as school shooting victims from across the country described their experience as student-survivors or as friends and family who never stop mourning dead children. President Trump was given a hand-written card by one of his aides to help him navigate the emotional meeting, and pictures of the card helped tell the story of the day.” REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump observes a demonstration with U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division troops, an attack helicopter and artillery as he visits Fort Drum, New York, U.S., August 13, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “President Trump often talks about how much he likes big planes and tanks, and the ‘beautiful military.’ This summer he had a up-close look during a visit to a military base in New York state, where he signed the National Defense Authorization Act.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo awaits the start of a joint news conference by President Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he stands in the colonnade near the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 7, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “I always say that as photojournalists we photograph through the lens of the lives we live, including the books we read, the music we listen to, the movies we watch. As I was waiting for President Trump to arrive at an event one day, I noticed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo standing right behind me in classic dark sunglasses. The image of John Belushi in the movie “The Blues Brothers” crossed my mind.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Missouri, U.S., November 1, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “In a last push before the mid-term elections, President Trump traveled for six consecutive days, attending two or three rallies a day, to boost Republican candidates. Most of the rallies were held in airport hangars for an easy flight in and out. Sometimes, the rallies were held in the middle of the night, like this one at Columbia Regional Airport in Columbia, Missouri.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: “Body language can give an ordinary photo much more meaning, and here, Trump and Putin did not disappoint.” REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un walk together before their working lunch during their summit at the Capella Hotel on the resort island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: “On a historic and difficult day, it was fun to look for the odd angle or expression. Here, Trump and Kim walk away after impromptu remarks to reporters – which clearly pleased the North Korean leader.” REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk with park superintendent Stephen Clark at the Flight 93 National Memorial during the 17th annual September 11 observance at the memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: “A somber moment, this image came together because of the scale and symmetry of the wall panels and the people in the photo.” REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Alex van der Zwaan goes through security at the U.S. District Court after arriving for his sentencing in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 3, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “Everyone has to go through security, no matter who you are. He seemed to embrace the inevitable as the woman with the wand asked him to turn around, facing him back towards the doors where many of the news media were still gathered.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Demonstrators fly a blimp portraying U.S. President Donald Trump, in Parliament Square, during the visit by Trump and first lady Melania Trump in London, Britain, July 13, 2018. Reuters photographer Peter Nicholls: “I took this picture of the Trump blimp from a wall at the back of Parliament Square, to get a clear view from above the crowd, as it was revealed for the first time, prior to a day of protests during his visit to the UK, mid-July.” REUTERS/Peter Nicholls SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Supporters listen as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Belgrade, Montana, U.S., November 3, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlos Barria: “As a White House photographer I’m always looking for a way to connect the President, Donald Trump, with a place. Before the mid-term elections Trump spent six days campaigning across the country, and at most of the rallies the visual elements were so similar that it was impossible to say whether we were in Florida or Alaska. In this case, though, the context was obvious. We arrived at a rally in Montana and I noticed a group of Native Americans wearing traditional headdresses behind the podium. For me this was the picture of the day.” REUTERS/Carlos Barria SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway gives an interview at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 18, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “This is a fairly common scene at the White House, especially with Kellyanne Conway. Often the press will wait yards off while she or another member of the Trump administration gives a live interview. Conway will then walk past the rest of the press, and everyone hopes that she will give another interview to the group.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

White House Communications Director Hope Hicks leaves the U.S. Capitol after attending the House Intelligence Committee closed door meeting in Washington, U.S., February 27, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “This is the product of about seven hours of waiting and lots of team work involving constant coordination to guess where to wait in order to capture Hope Hicks as she left the hill. Luckily, there were several cameramen along for the moment and their lighting captured her perfectly.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

The imprint of French President Emmanuel Macron’s thumb can be seen across the back of U.S. President Donald Trump’s hand after they shook hands during a bilateral meeting at the G7 Summit in in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada, June 8, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “This is taken right after the first photo-op the two presidents had at the G7 summit after they had a tense back-and-forth on Twitter. They were smiling but Macron gripped Trump’s hand quite hard and I noticed that it left a visible impression on Trump’s hand.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN’s Jim Acosta as he questions U.S. President Donald Trump during a news conference following Tuesday’s midterm U.S. congressional elections at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 7, 2018. Reuters photographer Jonathan Ernst: “Covering politics has always felt to me like photographing a live theatre production – the actors and stage are usually set in a familiar way. But even if you’ve seen a specific play many times, there is always the possibility that there will be something exciting or new. It became obvious during this exchange that the dialogue was going in a different direction than expected, and I took it as a cue to make sure I gave the scene extra attention.” REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Fred Guttenberg (L), the father of Jaime Guttenberg, a victim of the February 14, 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, reaches out to try to shake hands with U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 4, 2018. Reuters photographer Joshua Roberts: “This moment happened in a break in testimony. Kavanaugh seemed surprised as Guttenberg approached but as he turned away he looked anxious. Kavanaugh later said he did not understand who Guttenberg was at the time.” REUTERS/Joshua Roberts SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump visits the Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, October 6, 2018. Reuters photographer Carlo Allegri: “The First Lady had taken a tour of African nations and could not depart the continent without a visit to the incredible pyramids of Egypt where I, as part of the traveling press pool, was able to make this photo of her looking out over Giza Pyramid Complex.” REUTERS/Carlo Allegri SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for travel to Ohio at the Morristown Airport in Morristown, NJ, U.S., August 4, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “We photograph departures and landings hundreds of times. Sometimes, as in this case, the clouds or the light can give you a little gift.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Convention at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL, U.S., October 8, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “I took this photograph as the pool was being ushered out to leave right before Trump’s speech was supposed to end. These are the images we take after we have taken the literal, newsy ones.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

A protester is removed during acting CIA Director Gina Haspel’s testimony at her Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: “Just like sports, you have to follow the action. This time, I followed it out of the hearing room and into the hallway.” REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Thomas Musolino wears a mask of U.S. President Donald Trump while holding his daughter Gianna Musolino, 10, during a Trump campaign rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S., August 2, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “The President’s rallies are well-known at this point, we attend a lot of them as members of the White House travel pool. This father-daughter situation really stood out from the crowd because of the juxtaposition of the mask and the tenderness between the two of them.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Francois Lenoir: “I like the contrast in the photograph. The presence of U.S. President Trump posing smiling and the lack of interest of the officials in the background.” REUTERS/Francois Lenoir SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Air Force One prepares to depart for travel to Pennsylvania with U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump onboard from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, U.S., September 11, 2018. Reuters photographer Leah Millis: “I took this photograph from the motorcade as we drove by this eerie scene of fog surrounding Air Force One. It was lined up like that for a split second.” REUTERS/Leah Millis SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. first lady Melania Trump climbs into her motorcade vehicle wearing a Zara design jacket with the phrase “I Really Don’t Care. Do U?” on the back as she returns to Washington from a visit to the U.S.-Mexico border area in Texas, at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., June 21, 2018. Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque: “I could not see the words on Melania’s jacket when she boarded Air Force One. I only heard about it once airborne. But there was no way I was going to miss it again, and to my utter astonishment, she was wearing it once more upon her return to Washington.” REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Senior White House Adviser Ivanka Trump and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stand next to the dedication plaque at the new U.S. embassy during the dedication ceremony in Jerusalem, May 14, 2018. Reuters photographer Ronen Zvulun: “I shot this picture when I was standing on a platform really close to Ivanka Trump. I knew exactly where to stand and what lens to use because I did a tour the day before. I knew this was the key picture we had been waiting for since the story broke some weeks before.” REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 27, 2018. Reuters photographer Brian Snyder: “The East Room felt tense even before President Trump and Chancellor Merkel entered for their joint news conference. With Merkel’s podium behind the President’s from my vantage point, she seemed to want to keep an eye on him. The East Room was very full for the joint news conference, with photographers on ladders all around the perimeter.” REUTERS/Brian Snyder SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, puts her shoe back on after passing through a security screening, as she arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton: “On the morning that I took this picture there was a mad scrum outside the courthouse to get a picture of Stormy Daniels. She didn’t enter the regular entrance of a media gauntlet that was set up for her. I placed myself by a window where I saw her passing through the metal detector. Shooting through the window was difficult but I was able to make the frame.” REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump walk away after holding a joint news conference at Chequers, the official country residence of the Prime Minister, near Aylesbury, Britain, July 13, 2018. Reuters photographer Hannah McKay: “This was the third and final time I was photographing Donald Trump during his working visit to the UK. I’d noticed he had a tendency to hold Theresa May by the hand when they used stairs, so I lay on the floor for fifteen minutes waiting for the pair to exit via some steps. As they did, Trump took May by the arm and shouted over his shoulder, “Yes” in response to the question “Mr. President, will you tell Putin to stay out of the U.S elections?” – from a reporter in the press conference.” REUTERS/Hannah McKay SEARCH “TRUMP POY” FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH “REUTERS POY” FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

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“Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone…Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Ankara is well aware of the cost of strained ties with the United States. A diplomatic crisis last year, when Trump imposed sanctions on two of President Tayyip Erdogan’s ministers and raised tariffs on Turkish metal exports, helped push the Turkish lira to a record low in August.

The lira slid as much as 1.6 percent to 5.5450 against the dollar and stood at 5.52 at 1122 GMT on Monday.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Trump should respect Washington’s alliance with Ankara.

“Mr @realDonaldTrump It is a fatal mistake to equate Syrian Kurds with the PKK, which is on the US terrorists list, and its Syria branch PYD/YPG,” spokesman Ibrahim Kalin wrote on Twitter.

“Terrorists can’t be your partners & allies. Turkey expects the US to honor our strategic partnership and doesn’t want it to be shadowed by terrorist propaganda,” he said on Monday.

SAFE ZONE PROPOSAL

Trump gave no details about the safe zone proposal, but Pompeo said Washington wanted to provide security for those who have fought against Islamic State and to prevent any attack on Turkey from Syria.

“If we can get the space and the security arrangements right it would be a good thing for everyone in the region,” Pompeo added said.

Trump announced last month he would withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, declaring they had succeeded in their mission to defeat the Islamic State group and were no longer needed.

However, U.S. officials have given mixed messages since then. The U.S.-led coalition said on Friday it had started the pullout but officials said later it involved only equipment, not troops.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara was not against the idea of a secure zone along the border, but said strategic partners and allies should not communicate over social media.

“Nothing can be achieved by threatening Turkey economically. We need to look at how we can coordinate together and how we can solve this,” he said in a news conference with Luxembourg’s foreign minister.

The Kurdish YPG has been a U.S. ally in the fight against the jihadists and it controls swaths of northern Syria. Erdogan has vowed to crush it in the wake of Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of the region.

Erdogan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said: “Turkey will continue its anti-terror fight decisively” and that it was a protector of the Kurds, not their enemy.

“Terror is terror and it must be eradicated at its source. This is exactly what Turkey is doing in Syria,” he wrote on Twitter.

Turkey has swept YPG fighters from Syria’s Afrin region and other areas west of the Euphrates river in military campaigns over the past two years. It is now threatening to strike east of the river, which it has avoided until now – partly to avoid direct confrontation with U.S. forces.

An official from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of militias led by the YPG, said on Sunday Islamic State militants were “living their final moments” in the last enclave they hold near the Iraqi border. (Additional reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen, Tulay Karadeniz in Ankara, Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by David Dolan and Angus MacSwan)

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