Turkish officials, Tillerson discuss ISIL, Gülen extradition in Ankara

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Ankara on March 30, 2017.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Turkish officials on Thursday discussed ways to coordinate the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria and extradition to Turkey of Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the Turkish government of instigating a failed coup attempt in Turkey last summer, according to a statement from the Turkish presidency.

The Turkish government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have designated the Gülen movement, inspired by Gülen and operating charities, schools and businesses around the world, as a terrorist organization and have launched a widespread crackdown on suspected members since the failed coup. Gülen denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

Tillerson, who met with Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım before Erdoğan, emphasized that Turkey is important to American security and economic ties in the region.

It was the first visit by a US state official to Turkey after the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency.

Tillerson was also scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Thursday. In a previous statement Çavuşoğlu said Turkey would also take up the issue of the arrest in New York of a senior executive of Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank. The executive is accused of helping Iran violate US sanctions against the country.

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