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Biden to visit Turkey amid tension in relations

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US Vice President Joe Biden will be the highest ranking US official to visit Turkey since a coup attempt took place on July 15, at a time when relations have become increasingly strained.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has displayed strong resentment against Washington over the latter’s criticism of the handling of post-coup affairs and what Ankara says is a lack of clear-cut support in the face of a putschist threat that still lingers.

Biden’s visit aims to work out differences amid Ankara’s insistent demand for the extradition of US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, on whom Ankara places blame for the botched coup.

The US government is demanding credible evidence linking Gülen to the coup attempt. A delegation from the US departments of Justice and State arrived in Ankara on Monday to discuss the matter.

The issue has become a source of friction between the two allies as Ankara is calling on Washington to choose between Turkey and Gülen. The Barack Obama administration says it still needs concrete evidence that proves Gülen’s role in the putschist effort.

Turkish leaders are expected to bring up the issue during Biden’s visit as well as express their anger and frustration with the US for backing Kurdish forces in Syria.

Ankara views the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organization Turkey, the US and the EU.

Turkey is concerned about the expanding Kurdish influence in northern Syria, especially after the takeover of Manbij.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday said Turkey will provide any form of support to rebels in an attack on ISIL-held Jarabulus, a Syrian city that sits across the border from the Turkish town of Karkamis.

Turkish media reported that authorities are evacuating residents in Karkamis for a rebel attack against Jarabulus from the Turkish town.

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