US hails Turkey as ‘a trusted ally’ in Ankara talks

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Mr Tillerson (left) and Mr Erdogan (right) are at loggerheads over numerous issues

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has described Turkey as a trusted ally after meeting its leaders in Ankara.

His visit comes amid worsening relations between the two Nato allies.

Speaking after meeting his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, Mr Tillerson said the US wanted strong links between the two countries.

They are at odds over US backing for Kurdish fighters in Syria and Turkish demands for Washington to extradite anti-government cleric Fethullah Gulen.

“In the United States, the people of Turkey have a trusted ally and a partner who is committed to its safety and security, and advancing economic opportunity,” Mr Tillerson said.

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There was heavy security outside the US consulate in Istanbul as a demonstration took place against Mr Tillerson’s visit

“We look forward to approaching these challenges together, and the Trump administration will continue to build ties with this long-standing ally and our friend.”

Mr Tillerson said Turkey was an important ally of the US in the battle against the group known as Islamic State (IS) and the two countries agreed on the importance of lessening the disruptive influence of Iran in the Middle East.

The secretary of state’s visit comes amid continuing tensions within Nato and as Turkey angrily criticised the arrest of a leading Turkish banker in the US.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a top official of the state-owned Halkbank, was detained on Tuesday on charges of…

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