Vice President Joe Biden Uses Turkey Visit to Try to Ease Tensions

AFP  File | An attack which killed three soldiers and wounded 14 took place in Turkey's Mardin province where the army has been conducting a military operation backed by a curfew against the PKK

In a visit to Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden sought to ease heightened tensions with Turkey as the country continues to recover from a failed coup attempt last month.

Speaking in Ankara, he said Turkey would continue to provide US officials with documents to demand the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, who lives in exile in the United States.

Biden is the first senior White House official to meet with Erdogan and other top member of the Turkish government after the failed July 15 coup.

Biden met today with Turkish officials in Ankara. "We are cooperating with the Turkish authorities". Such a move would be an impeachable offense, he said, noting that USA legal experts are working closely with Turkish officials to review relevant evidence to be supplied to an American court.

Vice President Joe Biden is urging Turkey to be patient with the USA legal system.

"We have no, no, no, no interest whatsoever in protecting anyone who has done harm to an ally". Biden repeatedly explained that an extradition must meet a set of legal standards in a court of law, and that not even President Obama can change the process. Gulen denies Turkish charges he was behind the coup bid. "Vice President as well, have clearly and explicitly condemned the coup attempt", Yildirim said, indicating he accepted the validity of their words.

Turkey is demanding Fethullah Gulen's extradition and Erdogan has suggested that the failure to hand over the cleric is damaging the U.S. -Turkey security partnership.

There is an agreement between Turkey and the United States for the arrest and extradition of criminals, Erdogan added.

"This leader of this terrorist organization needs to be extradited to Turkey as soon as possible", Erdogan said through a translator after Biden spoke.

The US State Department said this week that documents submitted so far by Ankara constituted a formal extradition request, although not on issues related to the coup. "We continue ... to stand shoulder to shoulder with not only the government of Turkey but the people of Turkey".

Yildirim said that while some Turkish people might feel Washington had supported the coup attempt, that is not the official position of his government. "The United States had no knowledge beforehand of what was to befall you on July 15".

After Biden's remarks, Erdogan called the relationship with the U.S.

Yildirim said if the process of extraditing Gulen is expedited, Turkish people's disappointment would be dispelled "very quickly".

During the visit, Biden addressed Turkish complaints that allies had not displayed strong solidarity with Turkey's elected leadership against the coup and apologized for not having arrived earlier.

Biden also said he had privately raised concerns over the protection of human rights in Turkey during a post-coup government crackdown. "Our support is absolute and it is unwavering".

However, the rebelling servicemen started to surrender July 16 and Turkish authorities said the coup attempt failed.



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