Amid tension, Trump and Erdoğan agree to meet in New York

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US President Donald Trump (1st L) Reza Zarrab (2nd L), former Turkish Economy Minister Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan (2nd R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

US President Donald Trump and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke on the phone on Saturday and agreed to continue to work toward stronger ties and regional security as well as to meet in New York at the UN General Assembly, scheduled for this month, Reuters reported.

The two leaders’ conversation came days after arrest warrants were ordered from the US District Court for the Southern District of New York for former Turkish Economy Minister Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan, former general manager of state-run Halkbank Süleyman Aslan, the bank’s assistant deputy manager of international banking Levent Balkan and Abdullah Happani, an employee of Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab.

Erdoğan on Friday had described an indictment against Turkey’s former economy minister as being politically motivated and tantamount to an attack on Ankara.

“Noting the strategic partnership between Turkey and the United States, the two leaders emphasized the importance of continuing to work together to further strengthen bilateral relations and increase stability in the region,” the Turkish Presidency said in a statement.
According to the statement, the two leaders also agreed to meet in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled for this month.

US-Turkey ties have been strained by Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and it’s armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), despite Ankara’s claims that the YPG is affiliated with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ankara has also been frustrated by what it sees as Washington’s reluctance to extradite the Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government accuses of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired a movement named after him, strongly denies having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

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