Erdogan, Trump reiterate solidarity against COVID-19

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke Saturday on the phone to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, bilateral relations and regional developments.

According to an account of the phone call released by Erdogan’s office, the two leaders reiterated their solidarity in the fight against COVID-19.

They also discussed developments in Libya and Syria, agreeing to continue “close political and military cooperation” for regional stability, the statement said.

For its part, the White House said that the two leaders “discussed progress on reopening and boosting global economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”

President Trump also “reiterated concern over worsening foreign interference in Libya and the need for rapid de-escalation” and the presidents “reaffirmed the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Syria, as well as unimpeded humanitarian access throughout the country,” a White House statement said.

Turkey has seen a downward trajectory in infections and the death rate, but hundreds of people are still confirmed positive every day.

The country has registered 155,686 infections and 4,308 deaths.

Turkey’s transport minister said Saturday that some intercity trains will resume limited operations May 28 as the country readies to restart domestic tourism. Passengers will be required to obtain a travel certification code from a government phone application. Travelers above 65 and under 20 will also need to get an additional travel permit as a full curfew imposed on those age groups continues, except for a few hours each week.

Turkey is in the midst of its first ever nationwide lockdown, lasting four days during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. Previous partial lockdowns on weekends and holidays had affected a maximum of 31 of 81 provinces. Erdogan said this week he hopes this round of lockdowns will be the final one.

Separately, Turkey’s minister of youth and sports announced all quarantine measures for Turkish citizens coming from abroad had been completed. Since March, over 77,400 people were placed in mandatory quarantines in dormitories to curb the infection’s spread.