US visit by Turkish PM Binali Yilidirim overshadowed by spat

US visit by Turkish PM Binali Yilidirim overshadowed by spat

Today, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim arrives in the United States for a five-day state visit. His trip comes amid a worsening diplomatic crisis between two of NATO’s largest countries. In October, both states suspended non-immigrant visas for each other after the Turkish government arrested a staffer at the US embassy in Ankara. The spat goes deeper than tourism;

Binali Yildirim visits US toay

Photo: AP

Today, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim arrives in the United States for a five-day state visit.

His trip comes amid a worsening diplomatic crisis between two of NATO’s largest countries. In October, both states suspended non-immigrant visas for each other after the Turkish government arrested a staffer at the US embassy in Ankara.

The spat goes deeper than tourism; in its fight against ISIS, the US has armed Syrian Kurdish fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a designated Kurdish terrorist organisation in Turkey. Likewise, after the 2016 coup attempt, Ankara has demanded the extradition of Muslim cleric Fetullah Gülen from the US, a request Washington has denied.

Although the visa spat is starting to defuse, Mr Yildrim’s visit cannot reconcile the increasingly divergent interests of the two countries. With Turkey sliding towards authoritarianism and looking to take a more assertive regional role independent of US influence, expect tension to persist between the two NATO countries.

Delve deeper: Playing Hardball: Turkey-West Relations

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