President Erdoğan to meet world leaders in visit to Paris
Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will travel to Paris on Nov. 10 to attend the commemoration of Armistice Day, where he will also have bilateral meetings with his American, French, German and Russian counterparts.
The meeting will be a venue for the Turkish and American presidents to have the first face to face talk since Ankara and Washington have pushed the button to restore bilateral ties after the release of an American pastor.
The release of American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was at the center of the diplomatic row between Turkey and the U.S., ended the diplomatic standoff between the two NATO allies since October.
The congestion in dialogue between Ankara and Washington had deteriorated last summer after the Turkish court refused to release Brunson.
Bilateral ties had spiraled into a full-blown crisis over his trial in the past few years, and reached their worst point when he was sentenced to over three years in jail over terrorism and spying charges on Oct. 12.
After the court lifted the decision for his house arrest and travel ban, he was able to return home. He was released due to time he had spent behind bars and under house arrest, two years and three months respectively.
Turkey’s move relieved
Turkey reportedly sought to persuade the U.S. to spare Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank from a threatened fine for allegedly helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions in return for the release of Brunson, but the talks failed and Brunson’s detention prolonged in August.
Washington sanctioned Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, blocking their access to U.S. assets for their alleged role in the detention of Brunson. Turkey also decided to retaliate in kind on two U.S. ministers, Jeff Sessions and Kirsjten M. Nielsen.
The two NATO allies lifted sanctions on their ministers on Nov. 2 after a phone call between the two presidents on Nov. 1.
Washington also seeks the release of other U.S. citizen Serkan Gölge and its detained consulate staff in Turkey, but at least the two capitals are now able to proceed on bilateral cooperation areas.
Turkey and the U.S. stepped for the second phase of a deal in the Manbij region of Syria and started joint patrolling around the northwestern town last week. The agreement, which envisages retreat of the YPG from the town, was delayed during the phase of individual patrol activities of Turkish and U.S. soldiers.
However, the issue of the YPG remains to be a center of tension in the Ankara-Washington line despite the Manbij deal.
U.S. troops in the east of Syria launched a joint patrol mission with the YPG on the Turkish border after the Turkish army hit YPG positions east of the Euphrates.
Turkey considers the YPG as the offshoot of the PKK and therefore as terrorist. But the U.S. has allied with the Syrian Kurdish group despite its NATO ally concerns, suggesting the group as the best local force to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria.
Erdoğan is expected to discuss with Trump the issue of the ongoing U.S. promotion to the YPG, particularly joint U.S.-YPG patrolling away from the ISIL threat in northern Syria and its longstanding arms support of the group.
Relations between the two NATO allies have also been under serious strain over Turkey’s plans to buy Russian S-400 missile defense system, and the U.S. jailing of an executive at a Turkish state bank in an Iran sanctions-busting case.
Turkish state-owned Halkbank is facing a significant fine that could end up in many billions of dollars for violating previous sanctions on Iran.
Ankara is seeking for the U.S. administration to lift another investigation file regarding Halkbank over an administrative decision by Trump.