Pentagon says US general's comments on coup attempt 'misunderstood'
WASHINGTON / ANKARA
The head of U.S. Central Command was misunderstood when he commented about a recent coup attempt in Turkey, the Pentagon said on July 29.
“Any reports that suggest Gen. [Joseph] Votel expressed support in any fashion for the actions of Turkish military officers who undertook illegal military action against the Turkish government are factually inaccurate,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said during a press briefing, the state-Run Anadolu Agency reported.
Cook's comments comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at Votel for commenting that some Turkish officers with whom the U.S. had relations are currently detained for their role in the attempted overthrow.
Speaking on July 28 at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado organized by the Washington-based think tank, Votel said the Turkish government's roundup of coup plotters might impair relations between the two militaries.
According to Cook, American and Turkish military counterparts at all levels are in regular communication on a daily basis.
“The United States has repeatedly condemned the failed coup in Turkey and we continue to convey our absolute support for Turkey's democratically-elected civilian government and democratic institutions,” Cook said.
According to Cook, Votel was actually referring to the fact that the U.S. is engaged in active operations with Turkey and some of the officers that the U.S. military personnel were working with are no longer on their posts, which might affect the effectiveness of the operations.
“In some instances a counterpart may not be there who you worked with directly. Now, you need to find out who that new person might be,” Cook added.
Since the July 15 coup attempt, top Turkish and American political and military leaders, including Erdoğan and President Barack Obama have assured each other about continued cooperation and partnership.
Meanwhile, U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford is scheduled to come to Turkey on July 31, according to diplomatic sources, private broadcaster CNN TÜRK has reported.
Diplomatic sources said Dunford would hold talks in Ankara and visit İncirlik Air Base in the southern province of Adana.
Gen. Dunford has recentlty denied a Turkish pro-government daily’s claim that a retired U.S. general orchestrated the failed coup attempt of July 15, describing it as “absurd.”
He also added that his Turkish counterpart Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage and rescued later during the coup attempt, had called him twice in the past week.