Turkey agrees to German lawmaker visit to troops, says Berlin

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Turkey has agreed to let German lawmakers visit soldiers serving at an air base in Turkey next month as part of a NATO trip, a letter from the German foreign minister showed on Tuesday, after Ankara refused a visit there in July.

A row over access to German soldiers at Turkish bases has heightened tensions between the NATO allies and fueled a wider row with Ankara. Turkey arrested 10 human rights activists last month, including a German, in a security crackdown.

A letter from German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel to the head of Germany’s parliamentary defense committee said Turkey had agreed to a NATO proposal for a visit to the air base near Konya on Sept. 8.

Under the plan, NATO’s Deputy General-Secretary Rose Gottemoeller would lead the delegation and take up to seven members of the parliamentary committee with her.

“The Turkish foreign minister has agreed to this proposal,” Gabriel wrote.

Details were still being worked out about which lawmakers would be included in the visit. Turkey had objected particularly strenuously to participation by members of Germany’s far-left Left party, whom Ankara accuses of supporting terrorists.

Repeated refusals by Ankara to let lawmakers visit German soldiers at the Incirlik air base in Turkey made Berlin relocate those troops to Jordan. It also refused a visit to Konya planned for mid-July.

Germany’s armed forces are under parliamentary control and Berlin insists lawmakers must have access to them.

On Monday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of assisting terrorists by not responding to files sent to Berlin or handing over suspects wanted by Turkish authorities.

Reporting by Sabine Siebold; Writing by Madeline Chambers, editing by Alister Doyle