Preparatory delegation visits US ahead of Erdoğan-Trump meeting
ANKARAA Turkish preparatory delegation is visiting the U.S. on May 5 ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Washington on May 16-17, when he will meet U.S. President Donald Trump.
The delegation is composed of Chief of General Staff Org. Hulusi Akar, Chief of Intelligence Hakan Fidan and presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın.
Ankara and Washington want to restore ties, which have deteriorated since a failed military coup attempt in July 2016 and disagreements over U.S. support for a Kurdish militia group fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) in Syria. Turkey sees the group as an extension of the outlawed PKK.
Ankara is frustrated as the U.S. forces have become heavily dependent on the People’s Protection units (YPG) in their fight against ISIL, with Washington planning to launch a massive military campaign in Raqqa with the Kurdish fighter-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Ankara wants to convince its NATO ally to not continue the Raqqa offensive without Turkey offering to launch the campaign with Syrian Arab fighters instead of the YPG.
The U.S. has already delayed the Raqqa operation for months, first because of the military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, then because of the Turkish incursion into Syria dubbed “Euphrates Shield,” and then because of the constitutional referendum on April 16 as Washington did not want the case be part of domestic politics of Turkey.
Ankara is also pressing for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric living in the U.S. who is accused by Erdoğan of engineering the failed coup.