GOP senators to meet with Turkey's Erdoğan, Trump amid tensions

GOP senators to meet with Turkey's Erdoğan, Trump amid tensions
© Greg Nash

A group of Republican senators will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE at the White House on Wednesday.

Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLincoln Project mocks Lindsey Graham's fundraising lag with Sarah McLachlan-themed video The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election Trump dumbfounds GOP with latest unforced error MORE (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump who has been critical of Turkey, and Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischWhy the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque MORE (R-Idaho), the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, are part of the group heading to the White House.

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Officials speaking for the White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about the full list of Republican senators who will attend the meeting.

It comes amid heightened frustration on Capitol Hill about the U.S.-Turkey relationship after Trump's decision to pull back U.S. troops in northern Syria and Ankara's subsequent invasion of the region.

Multiple groups of senators have introduced legislation that would slap new sanctions on Turkey over its military incursion. While the House overwhelmingly passed a sanctions bill, legislation has stalled in the Senate amid skepticism from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) about the use of sanctions against a NATO ally.

Trump also faced bipartisan pressure to revoke his invite to Erdoğan.

McConnell noted from the Senate floor on Wednesday that some lawmakers had "expressed concern" about letting Erdoğan visit the White House, but added, "I hope the meeting produces better behavior from this important NATO ally."

"I share my colleagues' uneasiness at seeing President Erdoğan honored down at the White House, but I would urge this body to remain clear-eyed about our nation's vital interest in the Middle East and the fact that advancing them will mean strengthening our relationship with this NATO ally, not weakening it further," he added.