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Turkish PM cancels meeting with German FM amid İncirlik crisis

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has cancelled a meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is in Ankara for talks amid a crisis between the two countries over a ban on German lawmakers visiting German troops deployed at Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase.

“The prime minister’s meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has been cancelled due to our busy program,” said a statement issued by the Turkish Prime Ministry on Monday.

The cancellation came minutes after a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Gabriel in Ankara on Monday.

During the joint news conference with Gabriel, Çavuşoğlu underlined that Ankara would maintain the ban on the visit of German lawmakers to İncirlik. The German delegation can visit Konya NATO base rather than İncirlik, said Çavuşoğlu.

Gabriel’s visit comes days after news that 18 EU countries and Canada would fight for Belgium to host the 2018 NATO summit instead of Turkey.

German newspaper Die Welt reported on Wednesday that a group of European countries in NATO led by Germany, France, the Netherlands and Denmark “vehemently” oppose the annual summit being held in Turkey after a downturn in relations between the EU and İstanbul.

Before making a final decision about the future of German troops at İncirlik Airbase, Germany would wait two more weeks for Ankara to review its move to block a group of German lawmakers from visiting the airbase, Der Spiegel reported last week.

Tension between Germany and Turkey escalated over the arrest of two Turkish-German journalists on terrorism charges and Berlin’s decision to grant asylum to military officers and other diplomatic passport holders who Ankara accuses of involvement in a failed coup attempt on July 15.

The tension turned into a crisis when the Turkish government blocked a group of German lawmakers from visiting troops stationed at Turkey’s İncirlik Airbase on May 15.

Germany has more than 250 troops stationed at İncirlik along with Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling aircraft that are flown as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

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