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 TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE at the White House on Wednesday.

Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans GOP member urges Graham to subpoena Schiff, Biden phone records Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators MORE (R-S.C.), a close ally of Trump who has been critical of Turkey, and Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischSenate panel to vote on Turkey sanctions next week Graham, Van Hollen warn Pompeo that 'patience' on Turkey sanctions 'has long expired' The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' 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 McConnellTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Schumer briefs Democrats on impeachment trial 'mechanics' Trump legal team gears up for Senate impeachment trial in meeting with GOP senators 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.