Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım is set to visit the U.S. on Nov. 7-11 with the aim to find a solution to the conflicts and increasing cooperation between the countries. The visit is considered significant, marking the first visit at the prime ministerial level to the country after the new administration took office. The prime minister is expected to hold bilateral talks with Vice President Mike Pence to discuss issues including regional developments, the recent visa crisis, the fight against terrorism particularly with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), Daesh and the PKK-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD), and refugee issues.
Yıldırım will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak. Yıldırım is expected to meet with opinion leaders and representatives of Muslim and Jewish communities in New York and Washington.
The prime ministerial visit comes as relations between Turkey and the U.S. have recently taken a dip over a range of issues. The premiere aims to discuss issues of contention with Ankara's NATO ally.
Commenting on Prime Minister Yıldırım's upcoming visit, presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın said yesterday that the visit was scheduled prior to the visa crisis, adding that it is expected to contribute positively to bilateral ties while emphasizing that the U.S. is an ally of Turkey.
The visa crisis, which will top the prime minister's agenda during the visit, broke out when Washington announced its suspension of non-immigrant visa services to Turkey following the arrest of Metin Topuz, a U.S. consular employee in Istanbul, for his alleged links to the FETÖ terror group. Ankara also suspended its visa services with the U.S. in retaliation, criticizing the U.S.'s decision.
To find a solution, a U.S. delegation headed by U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Jonathan Cohen visited Turkey to discuss the issue with a Turkish delegation headed by Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ahmet Muhtar Gün last month. Evaluating the meetings, both sides underlined that progress has been made regarding the issue.
Turkey has continued calling for U.S. support and cooperation in the fight against FETÖ, demanding that the ringleader of the terrorist group, Fetullah Gülen, be extradited. The former preacher is accused of orchestrating last year's coup attempt that left 249 people killed and nearly 2,200 others injured.
U.S. military support for the PYD is one of the main issues causing tension between Ankara and Washington. Turkey has repeatedly warned the U.S. that the PYD is considered the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist organization. However, Washington professes that the PYD has been effective in the fight against Daesh and is not taking Ankara's concerns into consideration despite Turkey having stressed that there is a clear link between the two terrorist groups. Ankara has reiterated that one terrorist group cannot be eliminated by another. After Raqqa, Syria, was liberated from Daesh, members of the People's Protection Units (YPG), the PYD's armed wing, celebrated by hanging posters of the PKK's imprisoned leader, Abdullah Öcalan. After the scandalous poster incident in Raqqa, the U.S. Embassy in Ankara said that the PKK is a terror organization and that Öcalan is not someone to be respected. Ankara continues to stress that the U.S. should end its cooperation with the terrorist group.
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