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The Latest: Trump says ‘honor’ to welcome Turkey’s president

President Donald Trump meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Trump’s talks with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is holding his first face-to-face talks with Turkey’s president amid accusations that Trump gave Russian officials classified intelligence from an ally.

Trump greeted Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the entrance to the West Wing with a handshake and small talk out of range of reporters.

Addressing reporters a short time later, Trump said it was a “great honor” to welcome Erdogan.

Trump also offered compassion and support for “horrible terrorist attacks” against the Turkish people in recent years.

Erdogan congratulated Trump on his “legendary triumph” in last November’s presidential election. He also noted that the U.S. and Turkey work alongside each other at the United Nations, NATO and the Group of 20 developed and developing countries.

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8:13 a.m.

Turkey’s prime minister has criticized a U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurds, vowing to fight the group if guarantees for Turkish security are not given.

Binali Yildirim told his party members Tuesday the U.S. cooperation with Syrian Kurds “is not something acceptable” for Turkey, saying he expressed Turkey’s position to Secretary of Defense James Mattis last week.

Turkey is determined to “root out terror,” Yildirim said, if “necessary guarantees for Turkey’s sensitivities and issues pertaining to Turkey’s security are still not given.”

Turkey views the People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a terror organization and an extension of Kurdish militants waging a three-decade long insurgency against the country. The YPG is a key U.S. ally against the Islamic State group in Syria.

Yildirim’s comments come hours ahead of a crucial meeting between presidents Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Donald Trump.

6:00 a.m.

Turkish opposition members and human rights defenders are urging President Donald Trump to raise the issue of Turkey’s deteriorating human rights and democracy in talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet with Trump at the White House for discussions expected to center on the friction between the two NATO allies over a U.S. decision to arm Syrian Kurdish fighters considered as terrorists by Turkey. They will also likely focus on a Turkish request for the extradition of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whom Turkey blames for last summer’s failed coup.

“Turkey is under a state of emergency since (the failed coup), during which human rights have been trampled on,” said Sezgin Tanrikulu, a legislator from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP. “The media and press freedoms have been placed under government control. Torture and ill-treatment have increased.”

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3:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump will welcome Turkey’s president to the White House Tuesday in a high-stakes meeting that could set the tone for how his administration deals with authoritarian leaders.

Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are expected to address the Syrian civil war, the refugee crisis and the fight against the Islamic State group when they hold their first face-to-face meeting.

The Trump administration has ramped up efforts to respond to the crisis in Syria, taking unprecedented action against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government over its use of chemical weapons against civilians.

But with Iran and Russia working to bolster Assad’s government, the Trump administration is turning to regional allies, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for help as it crafts its Syria policy.

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