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Iran Press TV

Germany to withdraw troops from Incirlik base in Turkey

Iran Press TV

Wed Jun 7, 2017 3:18PM

Germany will withdraw its troops and reconnaissance aircraft from an air base in Turkey as relations between the two NATO member states are worsening.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday that the troops would be pulled out of Turkey's Incirlik air base after Ankara said it would continue to prevent German lawmakers from visiting the soldiers.

The fresh diplomatic row broke out between the two NATO allies on May 15, when Berlin announced that Ankara had turned down a request for German lawmakers to visit the troops at Incirlik. German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the time denounced the Turkish government's decision and described it as "unacceptable."

Germany has more than 250 troops deployed to Incirlik, using the airbase for flying Tornado jets over Syria and refueling flights as part of a US-led coalition allegedly battling the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in Iraq and Syria.

The deployment of German troops abroad requires parliamentary approval, and German leaders say it is necessary that lawmakers be able to visit troops.

The German soldiers will reportedly be redeployed to a base in Jordan. The move may take nearly two months and Berlin acknowledges that flights by its planes will be interrupted for a time.

Turkey made the decision in response to Berlin's move to grant asylum to Turkish military personnel whom Ankara accused of participating in a failed coup to overthrow the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.

Turkey on Monday said it would continue to prevent German lawmakers from visiting the air base despite a visit by Germany's foreign minister for talks on the row.

Commenting on the German cabinet's decision, Chancellor Merkel stressed the significance of continued talks between Berlin and Ankara even after the withdrawal of the German soldiers from Incirlik.

"We have a huge range of common interests with Turkey and also close economic relations, so discussions are very necessary," Merkel told reporters on Wednesday.

Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim downplayed the effectiveness of Germany's removal of its troops from the air base. He said Germany can "remove its troops however it wants" and the decision has "nothing to do with Turkey."

Another row erupted earlier this year between Turkey and Germany when Berlin blocked planned campaign rallies by Turkish ministers to secure a 'Yes' vote in the April 16 referendum on expanding Erdogan's powers.

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