CIA Director Mike Pompeo to visit Turkey

In his first overseas trip, the CIA chief is scheduled to discuss a range of security issues with Turkish officials.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Vice President Mike Pence (R) finishes swearing in Mike Pompeo (L) as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), at the White House in Washington DC.

The visit on Thursday of CIA Director Mike Pompeo to Ankara will be his first overseas trip as CIA director. His meetings are expected to focus on security issues.

These include the fight against Daesh in the region, the extradition of Fethullah Gulen from the United States, and US support for Syrian PKK-affiliate, the PYD and its armed wing in Syria, the YPG.

The visit was decided on during Tuesday's telephone call between Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump.

Officials in Ankara said the two presidents agreed their countries would coordinate operations in Syria where Turkey and the US back different militias, both fighting Daesh.

Turkey backs the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces in Syria. The US backs the YPG, the armed wing of the PYD, the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which Turkey, the US and the EU consider a terrorist organisation.

Pompeo will also discuss Turkey's extradition request for Fethullah Gulen, whose organisation – known in Turkey as FETO (Fethullah Terrorist Organisation) – is accused by Ankara of orchestrating the failed coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Relations between the two NATO allies were strained during the administration of the previous US president, with Turkey expressing frustration at what it saw as US reluctance to extradite Gulen, and US support for the PYD.

Ankara is hoping for improved ties with Barack Obama's successor, and the phone call between Trump and Erdogan was closely watched in Turkey.

Turkish officials later said the telephone conversation was "positive and conducted in a sincere atmosphere" and both leaders stressed their strong alliance and need for close cooperation.

TRTWorld and agencies