A U.S. delegation is scheduled to visit Ankara this week to discuss Turkey’s request for the extradition of a self-exiled cleric it says instigated a 2016 coup attempt, according to two Turkish officials.
The team will meet Turkish counterparts from the justice, foreign and interior ministries on Thursday and Friday, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Talks will focus on Turkish allegations against Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who has been living in the U.S. and who denies any role in the failed putsch.
The U.S. has so far sidestepped repeated Turkish requests to turn over the cleric, with President Donald Trump saying in November that the extradition was “not under consideration.”
Relations between the U.S. and its NATO ally have been strained over a host of issues, including the fate of Gulen and American support for a Kurdish militia in northern Syria that Turkey considers a foe. Trump’s order to withdraw U.S. troops embedded with the Kurds, though, has been welcomed by Erdogan, whose military has been massing along the Syrian border ahead of an anticipated offensive.
A U.S. military delegation visited Ankara over the weekend to discuss regional security issues, the Turkish officials said. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton is expected in Turkey on Jan. 8, according to the Turkish government.