August 7, 2018 / 3:12 PM / 4 months ago

Turkey's Erdogan to pay state visit to Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will pay a state visit to Germany on Sept. 28-29, a spokeswoman for German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Tuesday, amid efforts by the allies to improves ties strained by a number of disputes.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a meeting of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, Turkey August 4, 2018. Murat Kula/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

The two fellow members of the NATO military alliance have differed over Turkey’s crackdown on suspected opponents of Erdogan after a failed coup in 2016 and over its detention of German citizens.

The spokeswoman did not say if Erdogan would also hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel’s office declined to comment.

Germany’s mass-selling Bild newspaper reported last month that Erdogan would visit Germany around late September.

A state visit would include a reception by Steinmeier with military honors and a formal state banquet. The German and Turkish foreign ministers vowed earlier this year to do everything to improve relations.

Their resolve led to the release in February of a German-Turkish journalist who had been held in Turkey for a year for alleged security offences. His release fulfilled a key demand by Germany, which still takes issue with what it calls Turkey’s deteriorating record on human rights.

Another German national was arrested in southeastern Turkey last month accused of spreading propaganda for Turkish militants, Turkish state media said.

The Turkish government has purged more than 150,000 civil servants and charged 77,000 people since the failed coup.

It has also launched cross-border operations into Syria against what it says are terrorist threats by the Kurdish YPG militia, which it deems a terrorist organization linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies have criticized the crackdown, saying Erdogan has used the coup as a pretext to muzzle dissent. The government says the measures are necessary.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Thomas Seythal, Writing by Joseph Nasr, Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean

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