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Friction with US may affect Turkey's trajectory in NATO

US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shared a fist bump in Brussels, but a figurative fistfight continues between Congress and Ankara.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - JULY 11: US President Donald Trump walks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the 2018 NATO Summit at NATO headquarters on July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. Leaders from NATO member and partner states are meeting for a two-day summit, which is being overshadowed by strong demands by U.S. President Trump for most NATO member countries to spend more on defense. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

The NATO summit in Brussels July 11-12 witnessed amicable fist bumping between US President Donald Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The interaction was particularly noteworthy given the unprecedented row that took place between Trump and European leaders. His jovial gesture stood in stark contrast to his bellicose posturing with others.

When Trump reportedly said of Erdogan, “I like this guy,” Turkey’s pro-government media — and nearly all Turkish media is controlled either by the government or by pro-government figures — welcomed the remarks. The Turkish side interpreted it as America's endorsement of Turkey’s increasingly autocratic leader at a time when his image and relations are ebbing with the West in general.

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