Trump, Turkey's Erdogan discuss boosting ties, fighting terrorism: sources

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends a Republic Day ceremony at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Ataturk, to mark the republic's anniversary as he is flanked by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R) in Ankara, Turkey, October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called U.S. President-elect Donald Trump by phone on Wednesday and discussed improving relations and cooperating in fighting terrorism, sources in Ankara said.

A NATO member which borders Syria, Iraq and Iran, Turkey is a powerful player in the region but Erdogan’s relations with U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as with Western Europe, have at times been strained.

Turkey has been frustrated by what it sees as Washington’s reluctance to hand over Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of masterminding an abortive putsch four months ago. He has lived in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

In what the Turkish presidential sources described as a “sincere” conversation, Erdogan congratulated Trump on his unexpected election win and said Turkey and the United States were allies brought together by mutual respect, common interests and values.

Earlier on Wednesday, Erdogan said he hoped Trump’s victory would lead to “beneficial steps” for the Middle East and for basic rights and freedoms.

Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Robin Pomeroy