Turkish, US officials to meet in Ankara to discuss bilateral problems
A working group established by Turkish and American officials from both countries’ foreign and justice ministries is set to meet in Ankara on July 13 as part of efforts to resolve a bunch of consular and legal disputes that include the cases of Fethullah Gülen and jailed pastor Andrew Brunson.
It will be the third meeting of the working group since it was established in early 2018 as a result of joint efforts by Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The working group constitutes a technical basis for both sides to understand and find a solution to the expectations of both countries from each other on key consular and legal affairs.
Turkey’s long-standing request from the U.S. to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a preacher on self-imposed exile in the U.S. who is believed to be the mastermind of the failed coup in July 2016, tops the list.
In a recent statement, Çavuşoğlu underlined once again that the extradition request still is a priority for Turkish diplomacy in the new era. Turkey says it has provided additional evidence on Gülen’s involvement and leadership of the failed coup, stressing the group continues and controls all anti-Turkey activities in the U.S.
The U.S., on the other hand, has long been pressing for the release of Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey in October 2016 on terror charges. Two senior senators had visited the pastor in prison late June before meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the case. The U.S. wants Brunson’s release and deportation to his homeland. The next hearing will take place on July 18.
American officials have also been voicing concern about the continued detention of Metin Topuz and two more local employees of U.S. diplomatic missions in Turkey again on terror charges. Topuz was arrested in autumn 2017 over alleged links with some senior members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ) within the police department. U.S. officials say as a liaison officer Topuz was just doing the job assigned to him by his supervisors.