CIA chief visits Ankara to discuss mutual security concerns

This will be the first visit by a high level Trump administration official to Turkey and the new CIA chief's first visit outside of the US.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Mike Pompeo waits to be sworn in as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in US Vice President Mike Pence's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House in Washington, US January 23, 2017.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in his first overseas visit as CIA head, arrived in Ankara on Thursday and is set to meet with Turkish officials to discuss terrorism and security issues.

The visit follows a phone call between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

According to Turkish sources, the two leaders discussed the situation in northern Iraq, removal of Daesh from the northern Syrian town of al-Bab, the extradition of US-based cult leader Fethullah Gulen and the Obama administration's support for PYD/YPG in Syria.

TRT World's Alican Ayanlar is in Ankara to bring us the latest.

Turkey accuses Gulen of being the mastermind behind a coup attempt last July. The Obama administration's refusal to extradite him has soured relations between the two NATO allies.

Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, leads a network of followers dubbed FETO, which allegedly attempted to overthrow the government in Ankara.

Relations were further strained when the Obama administration, despite warnings from Turkey, provided weapons to the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing People's Protection Units (YPG). Turkey considers both to be Syrian wings of the PKK, which both Turkey and the US consider to be a terrorist organisation. 

The group has carried out numerous terror attacks in Turkey within the past year resulting in hundreds of deaths.

TRT World spoke with Bahcesehir University Director of International Affairs Sean Michael Cox about whether the visit will normalise US-Turkey relations.