US pledges to help bring Turkey coup plotters to justice as G20 opens
The US is committed to bringing the perpetrators of the attempted coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to justice, President Barack Obama said Sunday, as the two leaders met during the official opening of the G20 summit in Hangzhou.
Ankara accuses US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of being behind the July uprising.
At talks with Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Obama said: “We will make sure that those who carried out these activities are brought to justice.”
Tensions between the two NATO allies have risen sharply since the failed coup attempt against Erdogan on July 15, with Ankara launching a wide-ranging crackdown and demanding that the US extradite Gulen.
An exiled former imam living in the eastern state of Pennsylvania, Gulen strongly denies any involvement with the bid to overthrow Erdogan.
The dispute has soured public perceptions of the United States in Turkey and risks undermining a deep security relationship.
US officials insist they will extradite Gulen if Turkey can present proof he was actually involved.
The meeting in Hangzhou was the two leaders’ first face-to-face encounter since the coup attempt.
Obama said the US was committed to “investigating and bringing the perpetrators of these illegal actions to justice” and assured Erdogan of American cooperation with Turkish authorities.
Since July, Ankara has detained, removed or arrested tens of thousands of people within the judiciary, military, education system and police force for alleged links to Gulen’s movement or the coup itself.
US-Turkey tensions have also been strained by Turkey’s bombing of Kurdish positions in northern Syria.
The targets included Kurdish groups who are backed by Washington and seen by it as integral to the fight against the Islamic State group.
Ankara accuses them of being in league with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a group which has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks inside Turkey.
Speaking on the sidelines, Obama also said American diplomats would continue to pursue a deal with Russia to decrease violence in Syria, despite US skepticism.
He said the US and Russia still have “grave differences” about what’s needed to end Syria’s civil war and which opposition groups are legitimate targets for the US and Russian militaries. But he said, “It is worth trying.”
“We’re not there yet,” Obama said. “I think it’s premature for us to say there’s a clear path forward, but there’s the possibility at least for us to make some progress.”
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)