US President Donald Trump said Monday world leaders have sought his help with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, because he claimed the Turkish leader will only listen to him.
“The heads of countries last week they called me up, ‘could you call Erdogan?'” Trump said during a Fox News interview, quoting world leaders whom he did not name.
Trump said he asked the undisclosed leaders why he should be the one to speak to the Turkish president, to which Trump said they responded, “‘You’re the only one he’ll listen to. He doesn’t listen to us. You’re the only one.'”
“I said, ‘Is that because of the United States?’ He says ‘no, that’s because of you. That’s because of your personality. You’re the only one that he’ll listen to,'” Trump said. “I don’t like saying this publicly, but it happens to be true. I get along with him and he listens.”
It is unclear which leader or leaders Trump was referring to during the telephone interview, but the call came amid heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean involving several US allies, including Turkey, Greece, France, and Egypt.
The White House said Sunday Trump spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, and said the leaders “agreed that Greece and Turkey must commit to dialogue, which is the only path to resolving their differences.”
Trumps said he is “dealing with world class chess players” in these dialogues with world leaders, singling out Erdogan among the national leaders.
Tensions have been mounting in the region after Athens’ controversial new maritime pact with Egypt. Greek defense sources announced joint military drills Thursday in the eastern Mediterranean along with France, that has sought to hem in Turkey’s maritime territory.
The exercise, which includes two French Rafale fighter jets, was conducted off the Greek island of Crete after France announced Wednesday it would beef up military presence in the region.
On Saturday, it was announced that a 2017 defense cooperation agreement between Southern Cyprus and France had entered into force Aug. 1.
Fuat Oktay, Turkey’s vice president, slammed the joint exercises and underlying pact, saying they are “unacceptable under any circumstances.”
“It is essential for France not to seek adventure in Cyprus-related matters, and act much more responsibly,” he said.