WASHINGTON/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - President Barack Obama spoke with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday about pressing issues in the Middle East, including the crisis in Yemen, the White House said.
The hour-long call was initiated by Turkey, sources in the Turkish president’s office said. It came on a day when Erdogan later complained at a news conference that “Iran is trying to dominate the region” and must withdraw forces from Yemen, Syria and Iraq.
Turkey and the United States support the Saudi-led military operation against Houthi forces in Yemen, who have taken over much of the country in an effort to oust President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Iran supports the Houthis.
The leaders also discussed U.S.-led negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, the White House said in a statement. Erdogan is scheduled to visit Tehran in April.
Obama and Erdogan discussed their cooperation fighting Islamic State militants and “common efforts to bring security and stability to Iraq and Syria,” the White House said in a statement about the call.
“The two leaders reviewed the train-and-equip program for vetted members of the moderate Syrian opposition. They discussed efforts to deepen cooperation to stem the flow of foreign fighters,” the White House said.
Obama “expressed appreciation for Turkey’s continuing support to nearly two million refugees from Iraq and Syria,” the White House said, noting they also discussed the crisis in Ukraine.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason in Washington and Humerya Pamuk in Istanbul; Editing by Sandra Maler and Cynthia Osterman