Ibrahim Kalin says that there are only two issues that cloud relations between Turkey and the United States — both of which are related to terror groups.

Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin speaks to media during the Atlantic Council summit in Istanbul, Turkey on April 28, 2017.
Turkish Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin speaks to media during the Atlantic Council summit in Istanbul, Turkey on April 28, 2017.

Turkey hopes that an upcoming presidential visit to the United States will resolve two of its biggest concerns.

Presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said that the US and Turkey had a very solid relationship.

There were only two issues that "clouded" this relationship, Kalin said, speaking at the Atlantic Council's Istanbul Summit on Friday.

This was the US recognition of the militant group YPG and of FETO — the movement led by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen that Turkey regards as a terrorist organisation. The handling of both issues had deteriorated under the Obama administration. But that might be set to change.

Gulen extradition

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to meet US President Donald Trump on May 16 during a state visit.

Kalin told TRT World that the relationship is already on better footing than with its predecessor: "We know that the Trump administration understands how serious this issue is for Turkey."

An ongoing investigation into the perpetrators of last year's attempted coup is still on Turkey's agenda. "We'd like to see more action taken against the FETO establishment in the United States." The group stands accused of masterminding last July's attempted coup.

On Gulen, Kalin said Turkey's allies needed to "act accordingly" and that Turkey would provide further evidence for Gulen's extradition. "We'll discuss, provide more evidence, files and other things to our US counterparts so that they also understand the magnitude of what happened here—and why FETO should be prosecuted and why Gulen should himself be extradited to Turkey."

General James Jones, a security adviser to former President Barak Obama, told TRT World that the US government simply could not extradite people even if it wanted to.

"This is an extremely emotional problem. Whatever the US is doing, we need to explain that to our Turkish friends in a way that is understandable."

Jones said that Trump could not act unilaterally and that any decision to deport someone was up to the US Justice Department.

Referring to Gulen, Kalin also told the conference that: "This man is running a criminal empire from the United States." He said that while he accepted that the US had to abide by the law, there was more that the US government could do.

YPG and the PKK

Kalin also told the conference that Turkey was unhappy that the former Obama administration had recognised YPG in the fight against Daesh in Turkey.

"We are hoping that the meeting on the 16th will address and provide a road map so that we can put this behind us," he said.

Trade also tops the agenda on the visit. Kalin said that bilateral trade with the US currently stood at about $20 billion. This, he said had hardly improved under the Obama administration.

He would like to see it increase to between $35 and $40 billion annually.

Global tour planned

Ahead of a major global tour, Kalin also told TRT World that he has "five major trips in the next three weeks. The first one is India, then Russia, then China and the US and then a NATO summit".

For Kalin, "It's a global tour of four major nations and NATO. We want to strengthen bilateral issues such as Daesh, Syria and Iraq. Our expectation is to deal with these two issues: support for PYD and YPG and how we can work together to deal with the threat from Daesh without using the PKK's Syria branch."

But the tour's highlight might be NATO. US President Donald Trump is to attend a NATO summit in Brussels on May 25. Kalin says that its "an important summit."

"President Trump will be introduced to other NATO leaders. We will discuss NATO's vision for the 20th century."

Despite talk of Turkey developing a look-east policy, Kalin says that Turkey "will continue to support NATO and address pressing security issues. As a member of NATO with its second largest army, we have an important stake in NATO's mission and outlook."

Source: TRT World