German minister visits Turkey for talks on deployment of 550 personnel, arms
German Defence Minister Ursula Von der Leyen talks with Chief of Staff of the German Armed Forces Bundeswehr Volker Wieker (R) prior to a session of the Bundestag, the German lower house of parliament, in Berlin, Germany, December 2, 2015, to a debate the country's role in the campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). REUTERS/Fabrizio BenschOnly two days after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved plans for Germany’s participation in the military campaign against jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the country’s defense minister is set to visit to Turkey for technical talks on Germany’s support for the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen will visit Turkey and have talks with her counterpart İsmet Yılmaz on Dec. 3, German Ambassador to Ankara Martin Erdmann told reporters on Dec. 2.
The visit comes after Merkel’s government agreed on Dec. 1 to send six Tornado reconnaissance jets, refueling aircraft, a frigate to protect a French aircraft carrier, and up to 1,200 military personnel to the region for one year, in response to a French appeal after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
Although no official decision has been taken yet, German and Turkish officials have been working on finalizing a Memorandum of Understanding on the basis of Germany’s proposals, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The bilateral talks are being conducted as part of anti-ISIL coalition efforts, so therefore have no relation to NATO’s involvement in the region, the same sources stressed on condition of anonymity.
Last week, a German military delegation visited Turkey’s İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana in order to check the availability of reconnaissance jets. If agreed, in the first phase, two reconnaissance jets will be sent to İncirlik as well as an aerial refueling aircraft and a frigate for protecting France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, which will navigate in the Mediterranean.
In addition, 550 of the 1,200 German military personnel are planned to be deployed on Turkish territory, the diplomatic sources said. They also underlined that those 550 personnel will not be fighters, but will rather be technical personnel including pilots, refueling crews and ground personnel for maintenance. The remaining military personnel are thought to be planned to protect the French aircraft carrier.