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Turkey disputes US version of Trump-Erdogan phone call

Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Ankara, Jan 26 (UITV/IANS) - The US and Turkey have released opposing accounts of a phone call between Presidents Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, highlighting deepening tensions between the two countries amid a Turkish military campaign in Syria.

Turkish presidential officials on Thursday said a statement released by the White House on the conversation between the US President and Turkish leader "did not correspond to the truth", the Guardian reported.

They said the US statement issued on Wednesday night did not correctly reflect the contents of the conversation between Erdogan and Trump.

According to the US statement, Trump relayed "concerns" over the escalating violence in the Kurdish enclave in Afrin and urged Turkey to "de-escalate, limit its military actions and avoid civilian casualties".

Trump also called on Ankara to avoid actions that risked conflict with US forces, which have provided arms and air cover for the Kurdish militias that Turkey is now battling in Syria, the White House said.

However, a Turkish official said that Trump did not raise concerns about escalating violence in Afrin and the two Presidents had simply exchanged views on the operation.

The official also denied that Trump had "expressed concern about destructive and false rhetoric coming from Turkey", as mentioned in the White House readout, saying Trump instead stressed that open criticism of the US in Ankara was raising concerns in Washington.

The official said Erdogan replied that US policies, such as support for the People's Protection Units (YPG) and the "harbouring" of Fethullah Gülen, an exiled cleric accused of masterminding the 2016 attempted coup, had "caused outrage among the Turkish people".

Turkish officials said Trump also requested the release of US citizens detained in their country following the failed coup.

Responding to Trump's request, Erdogan said the independent Turkish judiciary would make its decisions on the arrests of the American citizens after completing investigations.