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Turkish PM, US vice president discuss improving ties

US Vice President Michael Richard Pence (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim pose for a photo before their meeting on the second day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, Germany on February 18, 2017 [Güven Yılmaz / Anadolu Agency]
US Vice President Michael Richard Pence (L) and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim pose for a photo before their meeting on the second day of the 53rd Munich Security Conference (MSC) at the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, Germany on February 18, 2017 [Güven Yılmaz / Anadolu Agency]

US Vice President Mike Pence told Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim that Washington was keen for a new start in relations between the two countries, sources in Yildirim’s office said, after ties soured during the Obama administration.

Pence and Yildirim met on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich, Germany, and discussed improving ties, boosting cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the need to work together to find a permanent solution in Syria.

Yildirim told Pence that moves by the United States to meet Turkey’s demands over Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric blamed by Ankara for masterminding and orchestrating a failed coup last July, would pave the way for a fresh start in relations.

Ties between the United States and Turkey – which has the second largest army in the NATO alliance and is key to the US-led fight against Daesh in Syria and Iraq – have deteriorated sharply since the failed military coup.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and the government want Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, extradited. Gulen denies involvement in the coup attempt.

Ankara has also been angered by US support for a Kurdish militia group fighting Daesh in Syria. Turkey sees the group as an extension of the outlawed PKK, which has waged a three-decade insurgency for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey and has been behind a spate of recent bombings.

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