CIA chief Petraeus pays surprise visit to Turkey

CIA chief Petraeus pays surprise visit to Turkey

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CIA chief Petraeus pays surprise visit to Turkey

Director of the Central Intelligence Agency General David Petraeus. REUTERS photo

Ankara was tight-lipped concerning a reported unannounced visit to Istanbul by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus, while U.S. officials were little different than their Turkish counterparts in response to questions.

Petraeus arrived in Istanbul's Atatürk Airport with his private plane, according to an exclusive report by Turkish daily newspaper Akşam. The daily said the agenda of Petraeus’s talks with Turkish officials would be the Syria crisis and the anti-terror fight.

The visit was be the second unannounced visit by the CIA chief to Turkey in last six months. In March, the United States’s top spy paid an unannounced two-day visit to Ankara to discuss the deepening instability in Syria, the joint fight against terrorism, and closer cooperation on pressing regional issues “in the coming months.” On that visit, Petraeus held separate talks with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Turkish counterpart, MİT chief Hakan Fidan.

Contacted by the Hürriyet Daily News, both Foreign Ministry officials and Prime Ministry officials gave identical answers: “We do not have such information.” Neither denied nor confirmed the visit. 

A Turkish diplomat, speaking under customary condition of anonymity, told the Daily News that “no such meeting [with Petraeus] is on our agenda for now,” while an official from the prime minister’s office said “no such meeting is on the agenda of the prime minister, and at the moment he is planning to return to Ankara from Istanbul.” The official from the prime minister’s office noted, however, that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s time in Istanbul might be extended to night time.

Officials from the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) joined the Prime Ministry and Foreign Ministry officials, as an official from MİT neither denied nor confirmed the visit, saying: “We haven’t received information regarding such a visit.”

When approached, U.S. Embassy officials in Ankara referred Hürriyet Daily News to a public affairs officer in Washington DC who was naturally not at the office since it was weekend holiday and due to time difference between Ankara and Washington DC; and Daily News found an answer-recording machine which directed it a public affairs officer on duty. The public affairs officer on duty said: “We are not able share information due to security reasons.”