‘New day in Turkey-US ties,’ Pence tells PM Yıldırım
ANKARAU.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım over the phone on Feb. 9 that Turkish-U.S. relations were entering a “new day,” as the new director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was also in Ankara as part of his first overseas trip since taking office.
Pence and Yıldırım decided to increase cooperation between the two countries, according to a Turkish Prime Ministry source.
The two leaders agreed to boost bilateral cooperation on basis of the countries’ alliance and partnership, especially in areas of military, security and counter-terrorism.
Pence also expressed condolences over the death of three Turkish soldiers who were accidentally killed on Feb. 9 by Russian air strikes targeting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) units in northern Syria’s al-Bab region.
Meanwhile, Yıldırım once again requested the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, the accused mastermind of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, and to cooperate in Turkey’s fight against terror from the U.S. during Pompeo’s visit to Ankara on Feb. 10.
Pompeo, who paid his first overseas visit to Turkey on Feb. 9 and 10, held extensive talks with top Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) chief Hakan Fidan.
Yıldırım asked the U.S. to join Turkey’s efforts to defeat the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) and repeated Ankara’s demand to cooperate more efficiently, according to Prime Ministry sources.
Turkey officially requested the extradition of Gülen immediately after foiling the coup attempt but is still waiting for a response from U.S. authorities. The request also includes the temporary detention of Gülen.
The same request was brought to Pompeo’s attention during his meeting with Erdoğan and Fidan on Feb. 9. The three came together at the Presidential Palace and held around one-and-half-hours of meeting. There were no statements released after the meeting.
[HH] Closer cooperation needed
Yıldırım has told Pompeo that Turkey attached significance on cooperation with the new administration in Washington especially on bilateral ties, regional issues, the fight against terror and increasing intelligence sharing. Pompeo, too, said they valued cooperation with Turkey.
Pompeo also conveyed his condolences over the three Turkish soldiers killed in al-Bab.
His visit followed a phone conversation between Erdoğan and U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this week, where the two leaders have expressed their commitment to work together.