World / Europe

Turkey remains US partner despite coup drama: Pentagon

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-20 11:36

WASHINGTON -- Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik has promised that his country remains "a determined and committed partner" of the United States in the fight against terrorism, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Isik made the gesture in a telephone conversation with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, according to the Pentagon.

Carter reiterated US support for Turkey's democratically elected civilian government and the rule of law, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

Isik appreciated Carter's phone call and assured the United States that Turkey remains "a determined and committed partner and ally" in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) and terrorism of all kinds, Cook said.

Specifically, the two defense chiefs discussed the importance of the operations at Incirlik air base for the counter-IS campaign, he added, without giving further details.

The phone conversation was held after a failed military coup attempt in Turkey last week that left more than 290 people dead and 1,440 others injured.

Turkey and the United States are both members of NATO. Recent signs have indicated that the coup attempt has strained Ankara's ties with Washington, as Turkish leaders blamed US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen for plotting the coup and demanded his extradition.

At Tuesday's press briefing, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the status of Gulen had been discussed over a phone call between US President Barack Obama and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Earnest said Washington is reviewing the materials sent by Turkey to determine whether they qualify as a formal extradition request or if they meet requirements of the extradition treaty between the two countries.

After the coup attempt, Turkey temporarily closed the airspace of the Incirlik air base, which the United States has used to launch airstrikes against IS targets. Though the airspace over the base was re-opened for air operations on Sunday, commercial power supply has yet to be resumed.

In the phone conversation with Carter, Isik also expressed regret over his inability to attend the counter-IS defense ministerial meeting that Carter is to host in Washington on Wednesday.

Isik assured Carter that the Turkish ambassador to the United States will attend the meeting and will be fully empowered to speak for the Turkish government.

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