Ankara, August 17, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu talked on the phone with his U.S. counterpart John Kerry on Aug. 16 over the latest developments in Syria and Turkey’s bid to extradite the Pennsylvania-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara accuses of being behind the failed coup attempt of July 15.
Çavuşoğlu and Kerry discussed Gülen’s extradition and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Turkey in the coming weeks, state-run Anadolu Agency cited diplomatic sources as saying.
Biden will meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım during a visit to Turkey on Aug. 24, the White House confirmed late on Aug. 13. The visit will be the first by a high-ranking U.S. official since the July 15 failed coup attempt.
A delegation of U.S. officials from the Justice and State departments will also visit the Turkish capital on Aug. 23-24 in order to assist Ankara in preparing its formal request for the extradition of Gülen.
Çavuşoğlu said on Aug. 15 that he would travel to Washington, along with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, after the related file on Gülen is completed.
“We will be both conveying this file, and we will also explain to our U.S. counterparts why Gülen should be extradited,” he told reporters.
Turkey’s relations with the West have soured in recent weeks amid accusations from Ankara that the U.S. and EU member countries have not shown sufficient solidarity with Turkey after the failed coup attempt, in which more than 250 people died.
According to the diplomatic sources, Çavuşoğlu and Kerry also discussed the latest developments in Syria, namely in Manbij and Aleppo.
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) drew the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) out of Manbij last week, after months of fighting. Çavuşoğlu said on Aug. 15 that it expects the U.S. to keep its promises that the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces fighting inside the SDF withdraw their forces to the east of the Euphrates River, as promised before the operations started.
Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway said on Aug. 15 that the U.S. was committed to conducting the Manbij operations against ISIL “in accordance with commitments made between the United States and Turkey.”
Turkey considers the PYD a terrorist organization, while the U.S. sees it as a reliable partner in its fight against ISIL.
Meanwhile, Çavuşoğlu has also spoken with his Bulgarian counterpart Daniel Mitov over the bilateral relations, the prevention of irregular migration, and cooperation on the issue of migrants, which have been a fundamental issue between Turkey and the EU since last year.
Turkey and the EU struck a deal in March, during which Turkey agreed to help curb the flow of migrants to the bloc in exchange for accelerated membership talks, funding for Syrian migrants in the country and visa-free travel for Turkish citizens.