German cabinet backs troop pullout from Turkey base after row

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu attend a news conference in Ankara Turkey

Turkey blocked the visit to Incirlik Air Base, angered by German authorities' decision to grant asylum to soldiers Turkey accuses of participating in last year's failed coup.

The refusal prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her CDU party to consider the possibility of moving the troops from Incirlik airbase in Adana province and the cabinet on Wednesday approved the withdrawal.

BERLIN, Germany (A.W.)-Germany will pull all of its troops and aircraft from Turkey's Incirlik airbase, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen announced on June 7.

The withdrawal process of refueling aircrafts would take about two to three weeks and the relocation of reconnaissance jets, two to three months. Merkel portrayed the move as allowing Germany and Turkey to put aside one of many problems causing friction between the two North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.

With the decision made to move troops out of Turkey, Berlin can now "concentrate on other points" in its negotiations with Ankara, she added.

Germany now plans to redeploy the 280 military personnel stationed at Incirlik, along with surveillance planes and refueling jets to an air base in Jordan.

"I regret that. Conversely, I ask for understanding that we - for domestic political reasons - must transfer soldiers out of Incirlik, because the German parliament has a parliamentary army and places value on German lawmakers being able to visit Bundeswehr soldiers at any time", he said at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart.

Relations between Turkey and Germany have grown increasingly tense over the last few months and worsened during Turkey's referendum campaign on expanding Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's powers.

"If Germany takes positive steps, we will always take two (positive) steps".

"Turkey and Germany are going through a troubled period", Gabriel said. "We have no interest in pushing Turkey into a corner".

A previous standoff over Incirlik a year ago was eventually resolved.

Instead, Cavusoglu pressed Germany to extradite Turks who sought asylum in the country after the coup - something Germany says is legally impossible - and complained about the presence of Kurdish militants and followers of Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen in Germany.

"It's clear that dialogue with Turkey must be maintained", said Seibert, the German spokesman.

Issues fueling the tension between Germany and Turkey include Berlin's criticism of Turkey's crackdown on alleged anti-government activists in the wake of a failed military coup previous year.



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