UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY ERDOGAN
By Sibel Morrow
ANKARA (AA) - The Turkish president on Tuesday said the fight against Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) will be the top agenda item during his meeting with the U.S. president.
“Turkey took several steps and will continue doing so for the extradition of terrorist [group] leader [Fetullah Gulen] in Pennsylvania,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters at the Istanbul Airport before departing for Washington for official talks with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and some 2,200 injured.
Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
Erdogan said counter-terrorism, especially security issues of common concern, military and defense industry cooperation, as well as economic and commercial relations will also be addressed during his U.S. visit.
"With Trump, we have set a target to raise the bilateral trade volume to $100 billion. We will find the opportunity to evaluate the steps to be taken and the work that have been carried out," he said.
The Turkish leader also voiced hope that the talks between representatives of business world from Turkey and the U.S. will help the truth about Turkey to be understood in a time smear campaigns against Turkey have surged.
- New period starts in Turkey-US ties
Erdogan said Turkey would prove with documents that the U.S. meeting with terrorist YPG/PKK ringleader Ferhat Abdi Sahin “is wrong”.
He added: “Turkey wants to start a new period with the U.S. on the issues pertaining to security of both countries.”
"We will also tell [Trump] that the U.S. should treat the PKK/YPG terrorist organization just like they do for Daesh [ISIS] and other terrorist organizations,” he added.
The Turkish president's visit came after an Oct. 17 deal with the U.S. under which YPG/PKK terrorists were to withdraw from Turkey’s anti-terror Operation Peace Spring region in northern Syria.
Turkey has complained that the YPG/PKK terrorists -- sometimes allies of the U.S., ostensibly to fight Daesh/ISIS -- did not leave the area, and continue to launch attacks.
Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate the terrorist YPG/PKK from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.
Ankara wants YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the region so that a safe zone can be created to pave the way for the safe return of some two million refugees.
In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union -- has been responsible for the deaths of 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants. The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK.
The U.S. partnership with YPG terrorists ignores evidence supplied by Turkey that the YPG is in fact part of the terrorist PKK.
- Turkey-EU ties
Erdogan said the EU countries have never kept promises they made to his country and stressed the EU’s accession process gets stalled “when it comes to Turkey.”
“Be careful about your attitude against Turkey which hosts four million refugees. Carefully check your attitude against Turkey that keeps so many Daesh members in prisons and those that are kept under check in Syrian territories,” said Erdogan.
“These [border] gates will open and these Daesh members will be deported. […] Then, you take care of yourself,” Erdogan said and recalled that some Daesh members had already been repatriated to their home countries.
Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005. However, negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus, as well as opposition from Germany and France.