NEW YORK - US President Donald Trump held talks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, praising the controversial Turkish president's leadership despite a domestic crackdown on critics.
"(Erdogan) has become a friend of mine," Trump said as the pair met on the fringes of the UN General Assembly. "He's running a very difficult part of the world."
"Frankly he's getting high marks," Trump added.
The effusive praise comes in stark contrast to multiple disputes between Washington and Ankara.
Earlier this week the US government froze arms sales to Erdogan's bodyguards, after his aides attacked demonstrators in Washington last May.
Trump's predecessor Barack Obama had criticized the Erdogan government's jailing of journalists and a purge from government of those suspected of disloyalty to the veteran leader.
More than 140,000 public sector employees have been suspended or sacked under a state of emergency imposed after an attempted putsch against Erdogan last year.