British PM heads to Turkey after meeting with Trump

British PM heads to Turkey after meeting with Trump

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
British PM heads to Turkey after meeting with Trump British Prime Minister Theresa May will pay her first official visit to Turkey since she took office in July 2016 where she is expected to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım in Ankara on Jan. 27. 

She departed for Turkey immediately after meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. on Jan. 26.

May has recently said that her country would turn into a “big and global trading nation” as the U.K. prepares to leave the European Union after Britons voted in favor of Brexit in June 2016. The U.K. government is in negotiations to sign free trade agreements with some countries, including Turkey. 

The fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the refugee crisis, and Cyprus are expected to be discussed during her visit to Ankara. 

May is expected to work on boosting efforts to deepen the two countries’ cooperation on several issues, as well as current regional and international issues, a statement from the Prime Ministry said Jan. 27. 

Cyprus talks, fight against ISIL to be discussed 

The trip comes amid the ongoing series of Cyprus talks in Geneva.  Following a five-party conference on Cyprus in Geneva on Jan. 12, a working group, with the participation of three guarantor powers in Mont Pelerin on Jan. 18, decided to advance meetings.  The U.K., along with Turkey and Greece, are guarantor countries in the Cyprus talks. 

Turkey has recently rebuked the anti-ISIL coalition forces, particularly the U.S., for their lack of support in the Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria.

British fighter jets, under the U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition, conducted air strikes in northern Syria on Jan. 18, marking the first coalition air strike in a long time after harsh criticisms from Ankara. 

The Turkish military and Ankara-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters have been battling to capture al-Bab from ISIL as part of the ongoing Euphrates Shield operation for more than one month where fierce clashes in the region have led to scores of casualties of Turkish troops and FSA fighters. 

Human rights controversies in Turkey on agenda

May might raise concerns over human rights violations in Turkey in her meeting with Erdoğan, her spokesperson has said, while adding that the U.K. has been clear in their support for Turkey’s democracy and institutions.

The visit would “reflect the fact that Turkey is an indispensable partner and a close ally for the U.K. on many issues of global importance including trade, security and defense,” he said. 

“The prime minister will take this opportunity to reiterate our support for that but we will also be clear that Turkey’s response to that must be proportionate and of course we will continue to raise those issues. The visit will reflect the fact that Turkey is an indispensable partner and a close ally to the U.K. on many issues of global importance, including trade, security and defense. We will be looking at future relationships which we may be looking to explore with Turkey once we have left the EU,” he added.