CIA chief Pompeo visits Turkey to seek better bilateral relations
Iran Press TV
Fri Feb 10, 2017 6:28PM
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo is paying an official visit to Turkey to explore avenues for an improvement in relations between Washington and Ankara, which soured under the administration of former US President Barack Obama.
Pompeo made his first overseas visit to the Turkish capital city of Ankara on Thursday, and met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the presidential complex. Head of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MIT), Hakan Fidan, was also present at the meeting.
The CIA director held talks with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim the next day, where the senior Turkish official reiterated Turkey's request for the extradition of Pennsylvania-based Fetullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government accuses of having orchestrated the failed coup attempt last year.
During the Friday meeting, Yildirim emphasized the importance of cooperation with the administration of US President Donald Trump, and called upon American authorities to fight the Gulen movement within the United States.
Ankara says it has been successful in significantly diminishing the power of Gulen's supporters in state institutions following the botched July 15, 2016 putsch in Turkey.
Gulen has strongly condemned the coup attempt and denied any involvement in it.
Turkish officials say over 240 people were killed and more than 2,100 others injured in the coup attempt.
Tens of thousands of people, including military personnel, judges and teachers, have been suspended, dismissed or detained as part of the post-coup crackdown.
According to a survey conducted by the official Anadolu news agency, a total of 40,832 suspects have been arrested since the mid-July botched putsch. A total of 2,279 administrative and judicial judges, 104 members of the Appeals Court, 41 members of the Council of State, two members of the Supreme Court, and three members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors have been arrested as part of the ongoing investigations.
Additionally, 168 army generals, 7,596 Security Directorate police officers, 17 governors, 74 deputy governors, and 69 district governors under the Interior Ministry have been detained.
International rights groups argue that Ankara's crackdown has gone far beyond the so-called Gulenists and targeted Kurds as well as government critics in general.
The Turkish prime minister and the CIA director also agreed to establish stronger ties on the two countries' alleged war against terrorism and organized crime besides closer intelligence sharing on bilateral and regional issues.
Pompeo's trip to Ankara comes as he had earlier declared Turkey a "totalitarian dictatorship" in a now-deleted tweet.
The visit also took place only two day after Tuesday's phone conversation between Erdogan and Trump, which Turkish officials described as "positive and conducted in a sincere atmosphere."
Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, told Turkey's NTV news network that the Turkish president asked his American counterpart not to back Kurdish forces in neighboring Syria, and even spoke of a plan that would exclude the Kurdish fighters in the battle to retake the Daesh-held northern city of Raqqah.
Ties between Turkey and the US suffered a downturn under the Obama administration. Ankara has expressed deep frustrations over Washington's unwillingness to extradite Gulen and voiced outrage over the US support for the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria.
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