British PM May to visit Turkey on Jan 28
LONDONBritish Prime Minister Theresa May will visit Turkey on Jan. 28 and meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a spokesman said on Jan. 24, as the British leader seeks to prepare for post-Brexit trade deals.
The visit will be May’s first to Turkey as prime minister and she is expected to fly directly to Ankara from the United States, the Downing Street spokesman said.
The visit would “reflect the fact that Turkey is an indispensable partner and a close ally for the UK on many issues of global importance including trade, security and defense,” the spokesman added.
Asked if May would raise human rights with the Turkish leaders, the spokesman told reporters: “We have been clear in our support for Turkey’s democracy and institutions.”
Since last July’s failed coup attempt, Turkey has jailed about 40,000 people pending trial and has suspended or dismissed more than 100,000 from the military, judiciary and public services, on grounds of being a member of an organization led by U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, which the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating the failed coup attempt.
“The prime minister will take this opportunity to reiterate our support for that but we will also be clear that Turkey’s response to that must be proportionate and of course we will continue to raise those issues,” he added.
May is planning talks with senior Republicans in Philadelphia on Jan. 26 and then U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Jan. 27 in what will be his first meeting as president with a foreign leader.
May is making preparations for Britain to leave the European Union but has said she wants her country to be “truly global” and has started talks on possible trade deals with several countries including Turkey.
Turkey and the U.K. are two of the three guarantor powers in Cyprus, along with Greece, and efforts to find a solution to the more than 40-year-old conflict has reached a five-party level with the inclusion of the guarantor powers apart from Turkish and Greek Cypriot administrations.
Britain and Turkey are also both part of the U.S.-led coalition that has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other jihadists in Syria since 2014, as well as being involved in peace negotiations between the Syrian regime and the armed opposition.