Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not worried about Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
That’s because he is convinced the ban will not happen.
“I don’t think that this is remotely possible,” Erdogan told MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin in an interview that aired Friday morning, “because politics is a marathon. And it’s a long process.”
“Many things can be said throughout the rallies before elections,” he continued. “And things will turn out to be very different post-elections.”
Asked if Turkey would have better relations with the GOP presidential nominee or Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, Erdogan declined to offer his opinion.
“I’m not going to fall into that trap,” Erdogan said. “The best thing for me is to see the will of the people being served in the United States. The choice of the American people will be the right choice.”
Erdogan was in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly this week.
The visit comes at a tense time for U.S.-Turkish relations. Erdogan survived a coup d’état attempt in July that he blamed on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania. He has called on the U.S. to allow Turkey to extradite Gulen and criticized the country for harboring him.
Emine Erdogan, the president’s wife, who accompanied her husband to New York, asked Americans in a speech on Thursday to imagine how they would react to a coup on their own soil.
In addition, the U.S. is navigating a complicated partnership with Turkey as the war in Syria continues. The two NATO allies officially share the goal of both removing Syrian President Bashar Assad from power and defeating the extremist so-called Islamic State group.
But there are many differences in their approaches to addressing these problems. The U.S. is working closely with Kurdish militants in Syria, but Turkey considers them terrorists for their ties to Kurdish separatists inside Turkey.
In separate comments on Thursday, Erdogan lashed out at the U.S. for allegedly arming the Syrian Kurdish YPG group and working with the PYD, its political arm.
“If you think you can finish off Daesh with the YPG and PYD, you cannot,” he said, “because they are terrorist groups too.”