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Ankara Bars German Lawmakers From Troop Visit


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Ankara has refused German lawmakers permission to visit soldiers serving at an air base near the Turkish town of Konya, German officials said July 14.

Turkey's earlier refusal to let lawmakers visit German soldiers serving at Incirlik air base led to Berlin relocating those troops to Jordan. For historical reasons, Germany's armed forces are under parliamentary control, and Berlin insists the parliamentarians must have access to its soldiers.

The German Foreign Ministry told senior members of the parliamentary defense committee that Turkey had asked for the trip scheduled for July 17 to be postponed because of worsened bilateral relations, committee chairman Wolfgang Hellmich said.

Rainer Arnold, defense spokesman for the Social Democrats, the junior coalition party in the government, said: "The government, especially Chancellor Angela Merkel, must now take the necessary steps to ensure lawmakers can soon visit the soldiers in Konya."

The two countries are at odds over a several issues, including Berlin's refusal to extradite asylum seekers Ankara accuses of involvement in last year's failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while Berlin is demanding the release of an imprisoned Turkish-German journalist.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and dpa
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