ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who left for the United States on Sunday to meet President Barack Obama, said Turkey would not contribute additional troops to Afghanistan.
Erdogan’s trip comes at a time when Turkey’s deepening ties with fellow Muslim countries has fed perceptions that the NATO member is turning away from its traditional western allies.
Obama last week announced he was sending 30,000 more U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan, and Washington wants others to follow suit. “Turkey has already done what it can do by boosting its contingent of soldiers there to 1,750 from around 700 without being asked,” said Erdogan before his departure in Istanbul.
Turkey’s soldiers are not engaged in combat operations and Ankara has long resisted pressure from Washington to offer more combat troops.
Erdogan said Turkey would continue its training of Afghan security forces.
The prime minister also said he would discuss other regional issues such as Iraq and the Middle East with the U.S. president.
Last month, Erdogan visited Tehran to sign gas and trade deals and hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of Islamic countries in Istanbul. Turkey has also boosted ties with Syria with plans for joint military exercises.
Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton